BEIJING – Hong Kong residents can apply for a new visa from Sunday, which will allow them to become British citizens after China’s crackdown in the former colony, but Beijing said it is now a special British passport already in use. Will not recognize
The UK government says the new visa could attract more than 300,000 people and their dependents to the UK. Beijing said it would make them second-class citizens.
Britain and China have been arguing for months that London and Washington say it is an attempt to pacify dissent in Hong Kong after massive pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020.
The UK says it is fulfilling a historic and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong after implementing a new security law on the semi-autonomous city of Beijing, stating that the UK breaks the terms of the agreements under which The colony was handed back to China in 1997.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said referring to a special British National Overseas (BNO), “I am proud that we have come on this new path to Hong Kong BN (O), who live, work and work in our country Is to build your house. ” passport holder.
But the government of China and Hong Kong backed down saying that they would no longer recognize BNO passports as valid travel documents from Sunday 31 January.
“The UK is trying to convert large numbers of Hong Kong people into second-class British nationals. This has completely changed the basic nature of BNO,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a briefing.
Beijing imposed a national security law in Hong Kong in June last year, prompting Britain to give asylum to nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents eligible for a BNO passport from 31 January.
The scheme, announced last year, opens on Sunday and allows people with British National (Overseas) status to live, study and work in the UK for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
BN (O) is a special status created in 1987 under British law which specifically relates to Hong Kong.
The UK Foreign Ministry said it was disappointed but surprised by Beijing’s decision not to recognize the BNO passport. China’s move is largely symbolic as Hong Kong residents will not use their BNO passports primarily to travel. A BNO passport holder in Hong Kong can still use their Hong Kong passport or identity card.
According to government forecasts, a £ 250 ($ 340) visa could attract more than 300,000 people and their dependents in the UK and a £ 2.9 billion net profit to the British economy over the next five years.
It is still very uncertain how many people will actually take the offer.
China says the West’s views about its actions on Hong Kong are clouded by misinformation and a royal hangover.