BEIJING: China ’s capital Beijing has declared to stop recognising British National (Overseas) passports as travel and identification documents from Sunday and warned of further actions in retaliation against Britain’s offer of a pathway to citizenship to 5.4 million eligible Hongkongers.
The announcement was made by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a daily press briefing.
The move came hours after British authorities announced details of the application process for the new BN(O) visas. Applications will open on Sunday 5pm.
“Britain has ignored the fact that Hong Kong has already been returned to China for 24 years,” Zhao said. He accused London of ignoring Beijing’s “stern stance” against the new BN(O) policy, adding it would turn Hongkongers into “second-class citizens”.
Zhao said the BN(O) scheme was no longer one that had been agreed upon by both sides.
“[The new visa] is a serious violation of China’s sovereignty and a violent intervention of Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s internal affairs. It is a serious violation of the international laws and the basic principles of international relations,” he said.
China was firmly against the new visa, Zhao added.
The immediate impact on BN(O) passport holders remains unclear as Hong Kong residents are required to use their home-return permits, and not their BN(O) or HKSAR passports, to enter and leave mainland China.
However, some people use their BN(O) passports to travel abroad, especially to far-flung places where immigration officers may have problems differentiating between an HKSAR passport and the mainland Chinese version since the former also has the Chinese national emblem on its cover.
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