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China challenges U.K. plan to give Hong Kong residents a path to citizenship

Beijing — China stated Friday it can now not acknowledge the British Nationwide Abroad passport as a legitimate journey doc or type of identification amid a bitter feud with London over a plan to permit thousands and thousands of Hong Kong residents a path to residency and eventual citizenship.

The announcement by International Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday throws up new uncertainty across the plan simply hours after the U.Ok. stated it might start taking purposes for what are referred to as BNO visas starting late Sunday.

Beneath the plan, as many as 5.4 million Hong Kong residents might be eligible to stay and work within the U.Ok. for 5 years then apply for citizenship. Demand soared after Beijing final yr imposed a sweeping new nationwide safety regulation on the previous British colony following months of pro-democracy protests.

“The British facet’s try to show numerous Hong Kong folks into second-class British residents has utterly modified the character of the 2 sides’ authentic understanding of BNO,” Zhao informed reporters at a day by day briefing.

“This transfer severely infringes on China‘s sovereignty, grossly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China’s inner affairs, and severely violates worldwide regulation and the essential norms of worldwide relations,” he stated. “China will now not acknowledge the so-called BNO passport as a journey doc and proof of id ranging from Jan thirty first, and reserves the appropriate to take additional measures.”

Many Hong Kongers carry a number of passports and it’s unclear what if something the Chinese language authorities might do to stop folks getting into the U.Ok. by way of the BNO visa plan. As an extra safety of non-public privateness, a cellphone app will enable candidates to obtain their biometric info with out having to been seen visiting the British visa workplace.

The BNO passport was initially a disappointment for Hong Kongers when it was first supplied forward of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese language rule in 1997. On the time, it supplied solely the appropriate to go to for six months with no proper to work or turn out to be a full citizen. Candidates needed to have been born earlier than the handover date.

Nevertheless, stress grew to develop such privileges as China more and more cracked down on civil and political life in Hong Kong in what critics say violates China’s dedication to keep up town’s separate lifestyle for 50 years after the handover. China first declared the 1984 Sino-British Declaration setting out the handover preparations null and void regardless of its recognition by the United Nations, then imposed the nationwide safety regulation on the territory after town’s legislature was unable to go it by itself.

“I’m immensely proud that we now have introduced on this new route for Hong Kong BNOs to stay, work and make their house in our nation,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated in a press release.

“In doing so we now have honored our profound ties of historical past and friendship with the folks of Hong Kong, and we now have stood up for freedom and autonomy — values each the UK and Hong Kong maintain expensive.”

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