Chinese central govt agencies blast UK for betraying trust over so-called BNO passport for HK residents
Two top Chinese authorities overseeing Hong Kong affairs denounce UK's new immigration scheme for BN(O) holders
By Global Times Published: Jan 31, 2021 08:12 PM
Both the liaison office of the central government in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council denounced the UK's new immigration scheme which grants a pathway to citizenship for Hong Kong residents with BN(O) passports, calling it an act of treachery and manipulation to turn a large proportion of the Hong Kong people into "second-class citizens."
This act by the UK Britain severely infringes on the sovereignty of China, and it also blatantly interferes in the Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs while violating international law and the basic norms of the international relations, a spokesperson of the liaison office of the central government in Hong Kong said on Sunday.
"We firmly support the central government and the HKSAR government's firm stance and effective countermeasures in the first place," the spokesperson noted.
The BN(O) visa, which was a travel certificate recognized by China based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, has attracted attention as the UK government changed its entitlement after China enacted the national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administration (HKSAR) to enhance social stability and security on June 30, 2020. The UK government delivered its commitment to open a new visa for Hong Kong BN(O) status holders on Sunday (January 31), according to the official website of the UK government.
Those with BN(O) status and their eligible family members will be able to come to the UK to live, studyâ€¯and work. As with other visas, afterâ€¯five years in the UK, theyâ€¯will be able to apply forâ€¯settlement, followed byâ€¯British citizenship after a further 12 months, the website showed.
Before Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, China and the UK had already reached a consensus on the BN(O) and exchanged MOUs, as the UK clearly promised that those who held BN(O) had no right of abode in the UK and China recognized it as a travel document.
Twenty-four years later, the UK government has blatantly betrayed that trust and used the national security law for Hong Kong to manipulate the issue of BN(O) and expand its scope of application, trying to turn a large part of Hong Kong people into "second-class citizens" and completely change the essence of the China-UK MOU on the issue, the liaison office spokesperson said.
The approach of the UK constituted a gross breach of the China-British Joint Declaration, which is a complete act of treachery, the Hong Kong and Macao Office of the State Council said on Sunday. The UK boastfully claimed to respect its "historical ties and friendship" with Hong Kong, beautified its history of colony and of invasion in an undisguised way, which was shameless logic of robbery, the office said.
"We reserve the right to take further countermeasures," it remarked.
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