Hongkongers in UK Concerned Over CCP ‘Sympathisers’ in Welcoming Groups

A civil society group helping Hongkongers settle down in the UK has expressed concerns that the UK government’s welcoming fund for new Hong Kong arrivals has gone to groups with alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).Hongkongers in Britain (HKB), an ex-pat group founded by Hong Kong activist Simon Cheng, called on the government to “reach out to Hongkongers beyond the well-established Chinese groups which may be subtly ‘open’ to the Chinese regime.” Following the imposition of Beijing’s draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong in June 2020, the UK opened a special visa programme allowing British National (Overseas) status holders from the former British colony and their eligible family members to resettle in the UK. The government also launched a welcome package, including grants for charities and community groups that help Hongkongers settle in. Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. (Dale De La Rey/AFP via Getty Images) But HKB is concerned that some of the more established groups may have the “United Front Work” Department (UFWD)—the CCP’s overseas propaganda unit—lurking behind. HKB “has grave concerns about the CCP’s United Front Work, which is targeting BN(O) Hongkongers and overseas Chinese people. It risks neutering our political asylum, and endangers democracy and freedom— just what BN(O) visa-holders came here to find,” the group said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times. According to The Times of London, Hongkongers fear that two of the successful grant recipients under the Hong Kong BN(O) Welcome Programme—the Chinese Community Centre–Birmingham (CCC-B) and Chinese Association of Southampton (CAS)—may “have been infiltrated.” According to CCC-B’s website, two of the three directors of the organisation, which receives £34,719 ($45,167) government funding under the BN(O) Welcome Programme, have worked with the British Chinese Project; one as the chair of the project’s Birmingham team, the other as a project coordinator. The British Chinese Project was founded by Christine Ching Kui Lee, who the MI5 in January said had been “knowingly engaged in political interference activities” on behalf of the UFWD. The Times of London said that James Wong, who is listed on CCC-B’s website as a patron, had been awarded a visit to China that was sponsored by the CCP’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, which has since been absorbed by the UFWD. Dr. Ping Hua, a research scientist at the University of Southampton who cofounded the CAS and chaired the organisation between 2002 and 2011, last year voiced her defence of the Chinese regime. Writing in the British socialist newspaper the Morning Star ahead of a so-called “Stop Racism, Stop Anti-Asian Hate” rally in November 2021, Hua accused the United States of causing “a witch hunt against China” by creating “appalling lies and fabrications on human rights issues,” including what she said were “unwarranted charges concerning Xinjiang … provocative subversion in Hong Kong,” and “encouraging Taiwan’s independence in order to violently interfere in China’s internal affairs.” The Epoch Times previously reported that a scuffle broke out during the rally, where witnesses saw Hongkongers who were staging a counter-protest were harassed, chased, and attacked with blunt objects. Scuffles broke out between two rallies in Chinatown in London on Nov. 27, 2021. (Wen Dongqing/The Epoch Times) CAS also holds its Chinese New Year celebrations with the Confucius Institute, which is operated under Hanban, an organsation under China’s Ministry of Education. “So we might have political refugees who fled the CCP, you know, they’re in a situation where they’re celebrating Chinese New Year with people that—they might not know—answer to the Chinese government,” Sam Dunning, the author of The Times of London’s report, said on Monday in an interview with Times Radio. Dunning said that apart from official UFWD agents, people are also wary of “unwitting agents” of United Front activities such as unwittingly passing information about a pro-democracy Hong Kong activist to a group chat or conflating criticism of the CCP with anti-Chinese racism. “This is the kind of unwitting behaviour which I think some of these Hongkongers are afraid of, and they just want reassurance in many cases,” he said. The CAS receives £20,130 ($26,188) government funding under the BN(O) Welcome Programme. HKB issued a statement calling on UK politicians to take action. “Hongkongers fleeing from the oppressive regime should not be hosted and represented by the regime’s sympathiser(s), ” the statement said, adding it is not what BN(O) visas were “meant to be.” The group also called on the UK to “wake up” to the CCP’s use of anti-racism language to stifle criticisms against the regime, saying while it appreciates the va

Hongkongers in UK Concerned Over CCP ‘Sympathisers’ in Welcoming Groups

A civil society group helping Hongkongers settle down in the UK has expressed concerns that the UK government’s welcoming fund for new Hong Kong arrivals has gone to groups with alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Hongkongers in Britain (HKB), an ex-pat group founded by Hong Kong activist Simon Cheng, called on the government to “reach out to Hongkongers beyond the well-established Chinese groups which may be subtly ‘open’ to the Chinese regime.”

Following the imposition of Beijing’s draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong in June 2020, the UK opened a special visa programme allowing British National (Overseas) status holders from the former British colony and their eligible family members to resettle in the UK.

The government also launched a welcome package, including grants for charities and community groups that help Hongkongers settle in.

Epoch Times Photo
Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. (Dale De La Rey/AFP via Getty Images)

But HKB is concerned that some of the more established groups may have the “United Front Work” Department (UFWD)—the CCP’s overseas propaganda unit—lurking behind.

HKB “has grave concerns about the CCP’s United Front Work, which is targeting BN(O) Hongkongers and overseas Chinese people. It risks neutering our political asylum, and endangers democracy and freedom— just what BN(O) visa-holders came here to find,” the group said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times.

According to The Times of London, Hongkongers fear that two of the successful grant recipients under the Hong Kong BN(O) Welcome Programme—the Chinese Community Centre–Birmingham (CCC-B) and Chinese Association of Southampton (CAS)—may “have been infiltrated.”

According to CCC-B’s website, two of the three directors of the organisation, which receives £34,719 ($45,167) government funding under the BN(O) Welcome Programme, have worked with the British Chinese Project; one as the chair of the project’s Birmingham team, the other as a project coordinator.

The British Chinese Project was founded by Christine Ching Kui Lee, who the MI5 in January said had been “knowingly engaged in political interference activities” on behalf of the UFWD.

The Times of London said that James Wong, who is listed on CCC-B’s website as a patron, had been awarded a visit to China that was sponsored by the CCP’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, which has since been absorbed by the UFWD.

Dr. Ping Hua, a research scientist at the University of Southampton who cofounded the CAS and chaired the organisation between 2002 and 2011, last year voiced her defence of the Chinese regime.

Writing in the British socialist newspaper the Morning Star ahead of a so-called “Stop Racism, Stop Anti-Asian Hate” rally in November 2021, Hua accused the United States of causing “a witch hunt against China” by creating “appalling lies and fabrications on human rights issues,” including what she said were “unwarranted charges concerning Xinjiang … provocative subversion in Hong Kong,” and “encouraging Taiwan’s independence in order to violently interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

The Epoch Times previously reported that a scuffle broke out during the rally, where witnesses saw Hongkongers who were staging a counter-protest were harassed, chased, and attacked with blunt objects.

Epoch Times Photo
Scuffles broke out between two rallies in Chinatown in London on Nov. 27, 2021. (Wen Dongqing/The Epoch Times)

CAS also holds its Chinese New Year celebrations with the Confucius Institute, which is operated under Hanban, an organsation under China’s Ministry of Education.

“So we might have political refugees who fled the CCP, you know, they’re in a situation where they’re celebrating Chinese New Year with people that—they might not know—answer to the Chinese government,” Sam Dunning, the author of The Times of London’s report, said on Monday in an interview with Times Radio.

Dunning said that apart from official UFWD agents, people are also wary of “unwitting agents” of United Front activities such as unwittingly passing information about a pro-democracy Hong Kong activist to a group chat or conflating criticism of the CCP with anti-Chinese racism.

“This is the kind of unwitting behaviour which I think some of these Hongkongers are afraid of, and they just want reassurance in many cases,” he said.

The CAS receives £20,130 ($26,188) government funding under the BN(O) Welcome Programme.

HKB issued a statement calling on UK politicians to take action.

“Hongkongers fleeing from the oppressive regime should not be hosted and represented by the regime’s sympathiser(s), ” the statement said, adding it is not what BN(O) visas were “meant to be.”

The group also called on the UK to “wake up” to the CCP’s use of anti-racism language to stifle criticisms against the regime, saying while it appreciates the value of being “respectful, tolerant, and patient” to differences, tolerating the “intolerance,” which is “the approach of totalitarian regimes also in China and Hong Kong,” will end up eradicating pluralism in the end.

Commenting on Twitter, Benedict Rogers, co-founder and CEO of the Hong Kong Watch NGO, said the alleged connection is “deeply concerning,” and that the UK government “needs to be more aware of CCP infiltration.”

Benedict Rogers
Campaigner Benedict Rogers speaks at a rally for democracy in Hong Kong at Trafalgar Square in London, England, on June 12, 2021. (Laurel Chor/Getty Images)

CCC-B said the concerns are “unfounded” and it is “offended” by what it calls “damaging and malicious allegations that CCC-B has been influenced by the CPC and is monitoring HK BNOs in the UK.”

A CAS spokesman told The Times of London that Hua was no longer a member.

“The demonstrations in Hong Kong during 2019 have highly charged the political landscape and relations between Hong Kong, China, and the UK. We do not wish for this toxicity to seep into the non-toxic environment which our charity has cultivated for decades in which its purpose is for purely the celebration of Chinese culture and traditions (Hong Kong included), which date back thousands of years before the takeover of China by the CCP. We as an organisation do not hold any political opinions regarding current issues,” the CAS said.

“The reason why we applied for government funding for the Hong Kong BNO Welcome programme is that we as a non-profit charity aim to help Hong Kong people to successfully settle down in the UK, to integrate with and to contribute to British society, in accordance with British values and traditions – including the support of freedom, free speech and democracy,” it added.

“We work closely with the British government and the local council, and we adhere to the rules and regulations closely. It is a shame that although CAS has made genuine and considerable efforts in partnership with the British government, to help and support the newcomers from Hong Kong to settle, we nonetheless have still been pulled into the highly charged and toxic environment of politics. We do not want this, and this has served only to prevent and degrade our ability to provide the necessary help to the people that need it.”


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Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.