Hongkongers with British National (Overseas) status holders can apply for a UK visa without a BN(O) passport, the UK’s Foreign Office said on Friday, after the Chinese regime declared its derecognition of the BN(O) passport.
“We are disappointed but not surprised by the Chinese decision not to recognise British National (Overseas) passports,” the Foreign Office said in a statement emailed to NTD.
“Despite China’s announcement, BN(O)s and their families will be able to use documentation other than BN(O) passports to take up this visa. People with BN(O) status now have a choice to come and live, work, and study in the UK. We look forward to welcoming those who wish to settle here.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian earlier on Friday announced that the Chinese regime would no longer recognise the BN(O) passport as a travel document and proof of identity starting from Jan. 31, and “reserves the right to take further measures.”
The scheme, first announced last July after Beijing’s imposition of a draconian national security law for Hong Kong, allows BN(O) status holders to live, study, and work in the UK for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
Zhao blasted the British scheme, saying it “seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty, grossly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, and seriously violates international law and the basic norms of international relations.”
Benedict Rogers, chief executive of British NGO Hong Kong Watch, told NTD on Friday that he thought Zhao’s accusation is ridiculous.
“I think it’s ridiculous for the Chinese government to be accusing us of violations of the agreement, or violations of international law,” Rogers said.
“It is the Chinese regime that has, not just once, but several times, committed very grave breaches of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It’s broken its promises to the people of Hong Kong to uphold autonomy, and ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ and Hong Kong’s basic freedoms.”
On Nov. 12, 2020, the UK declared for the third time that Beijing breached the Sino-British Joint Declaration, by giving Hong Kong powers to disqualify pro-democracy lawmakers.
On Jan. 6, after the mass arrest of 53 pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the move was “a grievous attack on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms as protected under the Joint Declaration,” and that it demonstrated that “the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities deliberately misled the world about the true purpose of the National Security Law, which is being used to crush dissent and opposing political views.”
NTD reporters Jane Werrell and Jeff Zhang, Epoch Times reporter Alexander Zhang, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.