China to stop recognising BNO passports from Sunday - RTHK
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China to stop recognising BNO passports from Sunday

2021-01-29 HKT 15:58
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  • There has been a rush for BNO passports in recent months. Image: Shutterstock
    There has been a rush for BNO passports in recent months. Image: Shutterstock
Vicky Wong reports
Beijing said on Friday that it will stop recognising British National Overseas (BNO) passports as valid travel documents or for identification purposes starting from January 31.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the announcement at a regular news briefing.

It wasn't immediately clear what impact, if any, the move would have on the majority of BNO passport holders. Most Hongkongers wouldn't ordinarily use a passport to travel to the mainland, with home return permits used instead.

In recent weeks, however, there have been calls for the SAR authorities to restrict various rights of those residents holding the passports.

January 31 is also the day when Britain starts accepting applications from the almost three million Hongkongers eligible for BNO status for a visa to live and work in the UK for five years. Those taking up London's offer will eventually be able to seek British citizenship.

The UK introduced the new arrangement in light of the national security law that Beijing imposed on the SAR last year. Previously, BNO passport holders could only visit the UK for up to six months but had no right to work or settle there.

There has been a rush for the passports in recent months, and the UK says it expects around 320,000 Hongkongers to move there under the new visa deal.

Britain has previously stated that Hongkongers planning to settle in the country do not need to travel to the UK on a BNO passport, and it is their BNO status that counts, rather than the travel document.