A day after London vowed ‘not to look the other way’ when it comes to Hongkongers with British National Overseas BN (O) status and began the process to take in applications, China lashed out on UK and called the move as “the logic of a brazen bandit”.
Chinese officials have accused the UK of breaching past promises by offering a pathway to eventual citizenship for Hong Kong residents.
Online applications opened at 5 pm on the British government’s website after months of diplomatic rows. London unveiled its plan last July to take in eligible Hongkongers in the wake of Beijing imposing the draconian national security law.
Shortly after the registration went live, Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “This is a proud day in our strong historic relationship as we honour our promise to the people of Hong Kong.”
However, soon after, the cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office issued a “strong condemnation” of the move, accusing London of turning swathes of Hongkongers into its “second-class citizens”.
The office claimed that the policy amounted to a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a treaty signed by both countries in 1985 which set out the ground rules for Hong Kong’s development after its return to China in 1997.
“The British side did not keep its promise … and even brazenly claim it was out of its respect for its historical relationship and friendship with Hong Kong to beautify its history of invasion and colonisation,” it said.
“This is the logic of a brazen bandit. This is an open affront to the sovereignty of China. We sternly oppose that,” it added.
Citing the British government’s official website, applicants must fill in various details, such as their contact numbers and email addresses, and submit proof of documents to back their registration.
The UK on Saturday vowed not to “look the other way” after Beijing said it would stop recognising the BN (O) passport as a travel or identification document.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said, “Britain will ‘not look the other way’ when it comes to Hongkongers with BN (O) status.”
Britain has doubled down on its offer of a pathway to citizenship for Hongkongers after Beijing stopped recognising the passports as travel and identification documents from Sunday with further retaliation a possibility.