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People's Daily Online

Britain betrays trust over so-called BNO passport: various sectors in Hong Kong

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:23, January 31, 2021

HONG KONG, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- In response to the British government's announcement of the so-called British National Overseas (BNO) passport and visa policy, various sectors in Hong Kong said it was a breach of trust and justice, and that it was natural for China to oppose it and take countermeasures.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday that China will no longer recognize the so-called BNO passport as a travel document and ID document from Sunday (Jan. 31), and reserves the right to take further actions. The HKSAR government later announced that it will follow up on the national countermeasures in dealing with BNO.

The decision was made after the British government announced that it will begin accepting citizenship applications for BNO-eligible Hong Kong residents starting from Sunday.

Leung Chun-ying, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said on social media that Britain's act was bringing disgrace on its own head.

Leung criticized the British government for its wishful thinking that China would accept the BNO immigration plan and the Chinese government would react in a sluggish way.

Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said that Britain has breached trust and justice and violated the Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong, and it was natural for the Chinese side to take countermeasures.

Teresa Cheng, Secretary for Justice of the HKSAR government, said in her blog that there is no single clause in the Sino-British Joint Declaration which provides for British rights or obligations to Hong Kong after Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland.

China and Britain signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong in 1984. Cheng said that after Hong Kong's return to China, Britain is not entitled to claim any new rights over or obligations to Hong Kong by citing the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Britain has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of "supervision" over Hong Kong, said Cheng.

Cheng said that at the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, there was also an immediate exchange of memoranda between the two sides dealing with the issue of nationality. The British Memorandum stated that the British government will not confer the right of abode in Britain on holders of the BN(O) passport who are Chinese nationals in Hong Kong.

Cheng quoted former British officials as saying that Britain considered the provisions contained in the British Memorandum to be of binding effect. If BNO passport holders were given full British citizenship automatically, it would be a breach of the commitments made between China and Britain in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Lau Siu-kai, vice chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said Britain's latest policy violated the agreement between China and Britain.

Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po said in an editorial on Saturday that the British side uses the status of Hong Kong people who still hold BNO passports as political hype. It aims to mess up Hong Kong on the pretext of providing a new path for Hong Kong people to stay and naturalize in Britain.

The editorial said that Britain unilaterally changed the consensus between the two countries on BNO, betrayed trust and grossly interfered in Hong Kong's internal affairs.

Ming Pao's editorial on Sunday also pointed out that Britain described the "BNO Immigration Plan" as helping Hong Kong people. Regardless of the selfishness and political calculations behind it, the plan itself alone will inevitably have a divisive effect on Hong Kong.

The British side's move obviously violated its promise. China no longer recognizing BNO as a travel document is believed to be only the first step in the counteraction, the editorial said.

Sing Tao Daily published an editorial saying that Britain's act not only betrayed international integrity, but also took this opportunity to attack China and seize profits. China's countermeasures are entirely in line with legal principles and reason.

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