BEIJING (AP) – China said on Friday that it would no longer recognize a British National Overseas Passport as a valid travel document or as a route to residency and eventual citizenship to millions of Hong Kong residents amid a quagmire with London. Will allow .
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian announced on Friday that Britain said that the BNO visa is introduced late Sunday, hours after the application for it would create new uncertainty around the scheme.
Under the scheme, 5.4 million Hong Kong residents may be eligible to live and work in the UK for five years, then apply for citizenship. Demand in Beijing rose after months of pro-democracy protests enforced a sweeping new national security law on the former British colony.
Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing, “The British side has completely changed Hong Kong’s attempt to convert second-class British citizens to second-class people.”
“It seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty, intervenes extensively in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, and severely violates international law and the basic norms of international relations,” he said. “China will no longer issue so-called BNO passports as a travel document and proof of identity beginning January 31, and will reserve the right to take further measures.”
Many Hong Kongers carry multiple passports and it is unclear if the Chinese government can do anything to prevent them from entering the UK through the BNP visa scheme. As a further protection of personal privacy, a cellphone app will allow applicants to download their biometric information without looking in the British Visa Office.
The BNO passport was originally a disappointment for Hong Kongers when it was first handed over to Chinese rule of Hong Kong in 1997. At that time, it only gave the right to travel for six months, which did not have the right to work or become a full citizen. . Applicants were born before the handover date.
However, the pressure to extend such privileges increased as China rapidly cracked civil and political life in Hong Kong, which critics say would allow China to maintain a different way of city life for 50 years after the handover. Violates commitment. China first announced the 1984 British-British Declaration declaring the handover system null and void despite its recognition by the United Nations, then enforced the national security law on the region after the city legislature was unable to pass it did.
“I am very proud that we have come across this new route for the Hong Kong BNO to live, work and make our home in our country,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
“In doing so we have respected our history and deep ties of friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood for freedom and autonomy – which are dear to both the UK and Hong Kong.”