Britain on Friday hailed a fresh visa providing Hong Kong citizens a route to citizenship after China’s crackdown however Beijing said it may well no longer recognise special British passports offered to residents of the aged colony.
Britain and China have been bickering for months about what London and Washington say is an attempt to silence dissent in Hong Kong, though Beijing says the West’s views are clouded by misinformation and an imperial hangover.
Britain says it is pleasant a historic and moral commitment to the folks of Hong Kong after China imposed a tough fresh safety law on the town that Britain says breaches the terms of agreements to hand the colony back in 1997.
“I am immensely proud that we have introduced on this fresh route for Hong Kong BN(O)s to are living, work and make their residence in our country,” High Minister Boris Johnson said, referring to a special British National Overseas (BNO) passport.
“In doing so we have honoured our profound ties of history and friendship with the folks of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy – values each the UK and Hong Kong maintain dear.”
But China hit back by saying it may well no longer recognise the BNO passport as a valid travel doc from Jan. 31.
“Britain is attempting to flip large numbers of Hong Kong folks into second-class British citizens. This has fully changed the original nature of BNO,” Chinese international ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing.
Beijing’s resolution no longer to recognise the travel doc is largely symbolic as Hong Kong residents would no longer normally exercise their BNO passports to travel to the mainland.
Beijing’s imposition of a national safety law within the aged British colony in June last year introduced on Britain to provide refuge to almost 3 million Hong Kong residents eligible for the BNO passport from Jan. 31.
The scheme, first announced last year, opens on Sunday and allows these with “British National (Overseas)” status to are living, gawk and work in Britain for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
BN(O) is a special status created below British law in 1987 that specifically relates to Hong Kong.
The fresh 250 pound ($340) visa may attract more than 300,000 folks and their dependents to Britain and generate up to 2.9 billion kilos win relieve to the British financial system over the next five years, according to authorities forecasts.
From around midday on Sunday, eligible applicants can apply online and book an appointment to register their fingerprints at a visa application centre. From Feb. 23 some shall be able to make the application via a smartphone app.
It continues to be extremely uncertain how many folks will actually take up the provide. Authorities estimates indicate that 2.9 million folks and a additional 2.3 million dependents shall be eligible to reach to Britain.