Shanghai/Beijing: China threatened to revoke the recognition of British National Overseas Passports held by Hong Kong residents on Thursday, in retaliation for the former colonial rulers’ relaxed citizenship policy.
Starting from January 2021, those in Hong Kong with such status would be able to apply for special visas to live in Britain that could eventually confer citizenship, interior minister Priti Patel said this week.
However, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that China opposes interfering in internal affairs and other policies, saying that this action is a flagrant violation of British commitments, international law and principles of international relations.
“As the English side is the first to violate the promise, China will consider not recognising BNO passports as a valid travel document, and reserves the right to take further measures,” the spokesman, Wang Wenbin, told a news briefing.
Even before Britain made the offer, China did not recognize these passports as valid documents for Hong Kong residents to enter the mainland. In 1997, Hong Kong returned to China and changed to require them to use travel permits issued by China.
This London decision may allow nearly three million Hong Kong residents to settle in the UK. Earlier, Beijing implemented a new security law, and pro-democracy activists worried that this law would end the freedom promised to the territory in 1997.
The British Consulate in Hong Kong said in a statement that after the Chinese government decided to implement the new national security law, it provided immigration channels with the right to live, work or study in the UK.
Britain said the law violated the terms of the handover treaty reached in 1984. China accused Britain of interfering in Hong Kong and Chinese affairs.
The Chinese Embassy in London said in a statement: “China urges the British side to recognize the reality of Hong Kong’s return to China, study Hong Kong’s national security laws objectively, and immediately correct its mistakes.”