HONG KONG — China introduced on Friday that it could now not acknowledge sure British journey paperwork, in retaliation for Britain’s determination final yr to grant probably hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents visas and ultimately a path to citizenship.
The announcement, which got here hours after Britain declared a proper begin date for its new visa program, was the most recent escalation of tensions between the 2 nations over the destiny of Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese language management in 1997.
After Beijing moved to impose a national security law on Hong Kong final summer time that gave the authorities sweeping powers to curtail dissent, Britain accused China of violating its promise to grant Hong Kong 50 years of semi-autonomy. The British authorities said in June that it could create a particular visa pathway for holders of British Nationwide (Abroad) passports, a singular class created for Hong Kongers earlier than the 1997 switch of energy.
Beneath the brand new guidelines, Hong Kong residents who had utilized for BN(O) standing earlier than the handover could be eligible for a particular visa that will entitle them to reside, work or research in the UK for as much as 5 years; after an extra yr, they’d then be allowed to use for citizenship.
The British authorities estimated that there have been 2.9 million BN(O) residents in Hong Kong, together with 2.3 million dependents who could be eligible to maneuver with them, although it was unclear what number of residents would really search to to migrate. The federal government predicted that between 123,000 and 153,700 folks would use the brand new pathway within the first yr. Not all BN(O) residents have BN(O) passports, however they’re eligible to use for them.
“We have now honored our profound ties of historical past and friendship with the folks of Hong Kong, and we’ve got stood up for freedom and autonomy,” Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, stated in a press release on Friday, alongside the announcement that purposes for the brand new pathway would open on Jan. 31.
Britain’s plan had incensed Beijing, which shortly warned of potential retaliation. On Friday, Chinese language authorities officers made clear that they noticed the brand new visa guidelines as a direct problem to their sovereignty.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s international ministry, stated at a information convention that the plan was an effort to show Hong Kong residents into second-class British residents, in line with a write-up of his remarks by CCTV, China’s state broadcaster.
China will cease recognizing BN(O) passports as legitimate journey or figuring out paperwork on Jan. 31, Mr. Zhao stated, including that China “reserved the fitting to take additional actions.”
It was not instantly clear whether or not the announcement was extra symbolic or substantive. BN(O) passport holders can even maintain Hong Kong passports or different international passports, which aren’t affected by the measure.
Some pro-Beijing officers have sought to shut such perceived loopholes. Regina Ip, a Hong Kong lawmaker, proposed earlier this month that the territory deny right of abode to residents with dual citizenship. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief govt, stated there have been no such plans within the making.
Claire Fu contributed analysis from Beijing. Elian Peltier contributed reporting from London.