Residents of Hong Kong will be able to apply for a new visa starting Sunday, giving them the opportunity to become a British citizen following a Chinese crackdown in the former colony, but Beijing is a special British passport already in use. Said that it would not recognize.
The UK government predicts that 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 they are trying to silence the opposition in Hong Kong after the massive anti-democratization movements of 2019 and 2020. ..
The UK said it had made a historic and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a new security law on semi-autonomous cities, violating the terms of the agreement that the colony returned to China in 1997. He said he was doing it.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to a special British National Overseas (BNO) and was very proud that “Hong Kong BN (O) has introduced this new route to live, work and build a hometown in our country. “. Passport holder.
However, the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have argued that after January 31, they will no longer recognize BNO passports as valid travel documents.
“The UK is trying to turn a large number of Hong Kongers into second-class British citizens, which has completely changed the nature of the BNO,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the briefing.
Beijing’s imposition of National Security Act on Hong Kong in June last year has allowed the UK to provide shelter to approximately 3 million Hong Kong residents eligible for BNO passports from 31 January. ..
First announced last year, the system will begin on Sunday, allowing people with British national (overseas) status to live, study, work and finally apply for citizenship in the UK for five years.
BN (O) is a special status created under English law in 1987, especially related to Hong Kong.
The UK Foreign Ministry said it was disappointed but not surprised by Beijing’s decision not to accept BNO passports. The Chinese movement is largely symbolic, as Hong Kong residents usually do not travel to the mainland using their BNO passports. Hong Kong BNO passport holders can continue to use their Hong Kong passport or ID card.
Government estimates that an A $ 450 visa could attract more than 300,000 people and their dependents to the UK and bring up to A $ 5 billion in net income to the UK economy over the next five years.
It is still very uncertain how many people will actually accept the offer.
China says its view of Western action on Hong Kong is clouded by misinformation and an imperial hangover.