Beijing [China], October 23 (ANI): In wake of the draconian National Security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong, the Chinese foreign ministry "has doubled down" on its threat to recognising the BN (O) [British National (Overseas)] passports, a day after the UK issued details on advancing plans to opening its doors to the people of Hong Kong.
According to the South China Morning Post, the British Government is set to create a special class of visa for Hong Kong holders of British National (Overseas) passports as the first step in a pathway to earning the right of abode in the country and full citizenship.
"The imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong marked a clear erosion of the rights and freedoms for the people of this city. This new route to the UK is part of our commitment to the people of Hong Kong," Andrew Heyn, the British consul to Hong Kong said as quoted by South China Morning Post.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was asked if Beijing would take retaliatory measures or stop BN(O) passport holders from leaving Hong Kong, he said, "The Chinese government has repeatedly made clear its strong stance on this issue, but the British side has insisted on ... interfering with Hong Kong affairs and China's domestic issues. It is only moving a rock to hit its own feet."
"As the British side broke its own promises, the Chinese government will consider not recognising the BN(O) passport as a valid travel document, and reserve the right to impose further measures," he added.
South China Morning Post further reported that former Hong Kong secretary for security, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, said that the city's Immigration Department might instruct flight companies to stop selling tickets to BN(O) passport holders, if the foreign ministry proceeded with the move.
A spokesman for the foreign ministry's Hong Kong office also said he "strongly opposed and firmly objected" to the British decision. "We urged the British side to rectify its mistakes immediately, and stop its hypocritical show and political manipulation," he said.
"By providing this new pathway, the British have publicly violated their own promise, blatantly interfered with China's domestic issues and Hong Kong affairs, and seriously violated international law and basic principles of international relations," the spokesperson added.
South China Morning Post further reported that the British Government said that it was changing the entitlements attached to the BN(O) status in response to the breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration by the Chinese government in restricting the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people.
However, the Hong Kong spokesperson claimed that the British "twisted the 1984 declaration" that focused on what the Chinese and British governments must do in the run-up to the 1997 handover.
"Nothing in the declaration mentioned that the British have any responsibility regarding Hong Kong after the handover," he said and added, "Britain has no sovereignty over Hong Kong ... its so-called commitment to the people of Hong Kong was only wishful thinking and groundless."
Residents of Hong Kong who wish to leave after the passage of Beijing's draconian National Security law are welcome to the United States, said a US official last week.
Anti-government protests have been rocking Hong Kong since last year. The enactment of draconian national security law in Hong Kong in June to stop people from protesting has intensified the demonstrations.
The national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong criminalises any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. It came into effect from July 1. (ANI)