HK follows China in halting recognition of BN(O) - RTHK
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HK follows China in halting recognition of BN(O)

2021-01-29 HKT 21:48
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  • HK follows China in halting recognition of BN(O)
Hong Kong on Friday evening followed China’s move to stop recognising British National (Overseas) passport from Sunday, accusing London of violating the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration by offering millions of HongKongers with BN(O) status a pathway to British citizenship.

The move is expected to have little practical effect, except the passport would no longer be accepted as a proof of identity here, and travellers cannot use it to board outgoing flights, or to return to the city.

A government spokesman said in a statement that airlines must be in future require air passengers to present either their Hong Kong identity cards or their HKSAR passports.

Non-Chinese holders who don’t have any other valid travel documents, he said, should apply to the Immigration Department for a Document of Identity for Visa Purposes for international travel if they wish to leave the city.

The spokesman also accused the British government of having political and economic motives in offering a new route to citizenship for Hong Kong people.

“Apart from serving its political agenda, the move of the British side will also bring huge economic interests to the country. While the UK may be in dire need of talents and capital, it should not have made use of the BN(O) passport as a 'political cover-up,’” he said.

The government statement also cited earlier comments from the Foreign Ministry, which said London’s offer of a path to citizenship is an attempt to “turn a large number of Hong Kong people into ‘second-class British citizens.’”

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had also told a press briefing in Beijing that Britain's offer to allow almost three million Hong Kong people with BN(O) status to apply to live and work in the UK for up to five years, and eventually seek citizenship, went well beyond the scope of the Britain’s handover agreement with China, therefore nullifying it.

BNO passport holders previously had only limited rights to visit the UK for up to six months, and no right to work or settle.

He added that Beijing reserves the right to take further action, suggesting further restrictions for BNO holders down the line.

The ministry had also said the UK’s move had “seriously infringed on China's sovereignty and blatantly interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs. It has also severely violated international law and the norms governing international relations. China expresses strong indignation at and firm opposition to that.”