The government of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) announced on Friday that it will no longer recognize the so-called British National Overseas (BNO) passport as a valid travel document and proof of identity, following up on the national countermeasures against Britain's new policy.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday afternoon 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 decision was made after the British government announced that it will begin accepting citizenship applications for BNO-eligible Hong Kong residents starting from Sunday.
The HKSAR government spokesperson said the Chinese and British governments reached a consensus long ago on how to deal with the issue of Hong Kong residents holding BNO passports and exchanged memoranda on the understanding.
In its memorandum, Britain clearly pledged not to confer the right of abode in Britain on those holders who are Chinese nationals in Hong Kong, the spokesperson said.
The current move of the British side has substantively changed the nature of the BNO passport, and is a fundamental violation of its pledge in its memorandum, the spokesperson said.
As Britain breaches its commitment in the first place, it is legitimate for China to take countermeasures in response, the spokesperson said.
The non-recognition of BNO passport as a valid travel document is in no conflict with the Chinese government's commitment in its memorandum, as well as the explanations of questions concerning the implementation in the HKSAR of the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China given by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the spokesperson said.
The central government's adoption of the stance and policy in response to Britain's breach of commitment is a matter of foreign affairs and falls squarely within its purview, the spokesperson said, adding that the HKSAR government will fully follow up on the necessary measures for implementing the relevant policy.
Starting Sunday, BNO passport cannot be used for immigration clearance in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong residents concerned can continue to use their HKSAR passports or permanent identity cards for entering or departing Hong Kong, the spokesperson said.
BNO passport cannot be used as any form of proof of identity in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong residents concerned may continue to use their permanent identity cards as proof of identity.
When passengers board flights for Hong Kong, airlines concerned must require Hong Kong residents to present their HKSAR passports or Hong Kong permanent identity cards as proof. Hong Kong permanent residents who are not of Chinese nationality and do not hold other valid travel documents may apply to the Immigration Department of the HKSAR government for document of identity for visa purposes for international travel.
The spokesperson pointed out that the move of the British government clearly uses the BNO passport or status which some people in Hong Kong still hold for political maneuver on the pretext of providing a new route for relevant people to reside and obtain citizenship in Britain.
Hong Kong residents who hold the BNO passport or status should discern the political intention of the British government clearly, the spokesperson said.
Apart from serving its political agenda, the move of the British side will also bring huge economic interests to itself, the spokesperson said.
While Britain may be in dire need of talents and capital, it should not have made use of the BNO passport as a "political cover-up," the spokesperson said. Enditem