After China’s warning that it would stop recognising the British National Overseas BN (O) passport as a travel or identification document, the United Kingdom on Saturday said that it vows not to “look the other way” when it comes to Hongkongers with BN(O) status.”
London’s vow to stand firm on its visa scheme came as Hong Kong’s Immigration Department instructed airlines on Friday night not to accept BN (O) passports as a travel document, according to a source with direct knowledge of the order.
Airlines were reminded to follow the new rules or risk breaking section 40 of the Immigration Ordinance, which targets the arrival of aircraft passengers in Hong Kong without a valid travel document. Airlines and associated parties in breach of the legislation face a fine of HK dollar 10,000.
Hong Kong immigration officials reminded airlines that if a passenger did not have valid travel documents, they should verify the traveller’s status with the department before allowing them to fly.
Meanwhile, the official spokesman of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “We have been clear that we will not look the other way when it comes to Hong Kong people with British National (Overseas) status who now have a choice to come and live and work and study in the UK”.
“And it remains the case that BN (O) and their families can use documentation other than British National Overseas passports to travel and enter the UK,” he added.
Last week on Friday, China had warned Britain of further retaliation after London launched a new visa scheme to provide Hongkonger’s a new route to UK citizenship.
The Chinese derecognition of BN (O) passport came a few hours after London released details of the application process for the new visa.
Beijing may retaliate further against Britain’s offer of a pathway to citizenship for 5.4 million eligible Hongkongers.
The diplomatic row between China and Britain over the passports first broke out after London announced last July that it would provide Hongkongers eligible for BN (O) status a pathway to citizenship.