HONG KONG – China introduced on Friday that it might now not acknowledge sure British journey paperwork, in retaliation for Britain’s choice final 12 months to grant visas to doubtlessly hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents and ultimately a path to citizenship.
The announcement, which got here hours after the UK introduced a proper launch date for its new visa program, was the most recent escalation of tensions between the 2 international locations over the destiny of Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese language management in 1997.
After Beijing moved to introduce one nationwide safety regulation In Hong Kong final summer time, which gave the authorities intensive powers to restrict disagreements, Britain accused China of violating its promise to offer Hong Kong 50 years of semi-autonomy. The British authorities stated in June that it might create a particular visa route for holders of British nationwide (abroad) passports, a singular class created for Hong Kongers earlier than the 1997 switch of energy.
Below the brand new guidelines, Hong Kong residents who had utilized for BN (O) standing earlier than handing over can be eligible for a particular visa entitling them to stay, work or research within the UK for as much as 5 years. after one other 12 months, they will then apply for citizenship.
The British authorities estimated that there have been 2.9 million BN (O) residents in Hong Kong, together with 2.3 million kin who can be eligible to maneuver with them, though it was unclear what number of residents would truly search to to migrate. . The federal government predicted that between 123,000 and 15,3700 folks would use the brand new street within the first 12 months. Not all BN (O) residents have BN (O) passports, however they’re eligible to use for them.
“We’ve honored our deep ties of historical past and friendship with the folks of Hong Kong, and we now have stood up for freedom and autonomy,” stated British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a press release on Friday, saying the opening of recent street functions on 31 January.
Britain’s plan had upset Beijing, which rapidly warned of doable retaliation. On Friday, Chinese language authorities officers made it clear that they noticed the brand new visa guidelines as a direct problem to their sovereignty.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Overseas Ministry, advised a information convention that the plan was an try to make Hong Kong residents second-class British residents, in line with a commentary on his feedback from CCTV, China’s state broadcaster.
China will cease recognizing BN (O) passports as legitimate journey or figuring out paperwork on January 31, Zhao stated, including that China “reserves the precise to take additional motion.”
It was not instantly clear whether or not the announcement was extra symbolic or substantive. BN (O) passport holders may maintain Hong Kong passports or different international passports that aren’t affected by the measure.
Some pro-Beijing officers have tried to shut such perceived loopholes. Regina Ip, a lawmaker in Hong Kong, proposed earlier this month that the territory deny the precise of residence for residents with twin citizenship. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s CEO, stated there have been no such plans in the course of the development.
Claire Fu contributed analysis from Beijing. Elian Peltier contributed reporting from London.
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