May 27, 2024

A difficult new beginning for Hong Kong people in England

DHe Lunar New Year is also welcomed in England with music, dance and good food. Tens of thousands of Chinese and Hong Kongers have spent the past few days celebrating their festivals in the British Isles. An elderly man in an embroidered red silk robe stands at the entrance to the new Broadwell Community Center in Milton Keynes. Golden dragons hiss at the brim of his hat, and he distributes sweets to the streaming children. Inside it smelled of pork with sweet and sour sauce, pancakes and incense sticks. On this Sunday afternoon, hundreds of families gather through the corridors of the old stone building next to the church.

Here in Milton Keynes, a planned city north of London, a large colony of Hong Kongers has settled like few other cities in Britain. Since China crushed the democracy movement in the former British crown colony in 2019 and a draconian “national security law” came into effect in 2020, a mass exodus has begun. “About 4,000 people have moved here to Milton Keynes,” estimates Julian Chan, founder and director of Hongkongers in the UK. Joined by around thirty volunteers, it helps newcomers find housing and work, supports them with mental health issues and organizes events and festivals. “Over two hundred Hong Kong organizations have sprung up in the UK, and we're trying to revive a lost civil society,” says Chan.