hina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on January 29 that China will no longer acknowledge the British National Overseas (BNO) passport as of January 31.
The UK issued BNO passports to Hong Kong residents with British overseas citizenship since July 1, 1987, and has now offered them a new path to citizenship in the UK.
According to a memorandum signed between China and the UK in December 1984, the UK would no longer acknowledge British Dependent Territories citizens in Hong Kong after July 1, 1997 after which Hong Kong returned to China, but those citizens could continue to use Britain-issued passports and enjoy some rights, except the right of abode in the UK.
Some 1.5 million Hong Kong residents hold a BNO passport. As many Hong Kong separatists are among the holders, China regards the recent change to the BNO policy as an attempt to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and separate Hong Kong from China.
“The UK’s move has severely infringed on China’s sovereignty and interfered in China’s internal affairs, which is a big violation against international law and the basic norms of international relations... China will keep the right to take further measures,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.