Expanding right of abode to HK BNO passport holders violates international law: Chinese Embassy in UK

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/7/2 10:22:41

A view of Hong Kong Photo: VCG

The Chinese Embassy in the UK strongly opposes the UK's violation of international law and basic norms regarding international relations, after the UK attempted to expand the residency rights of Hong Kong residents holding British National Overseas (BNO) passports. 

A spokesperson from the Chinese Embassy in the UK said Thursday that the memoranda exchanged between two countries gives a clear commitment to not granting Hong Kong residents with BNO passports the right of abode in the UK.

Experts told the Global Times previously that documents such as BNO passports are only considered travel documents by Beijing. Offering the right of long-term abode to Hong Kong residents is inconsistent with the basic facts and spirit of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. 

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), in its interpretation on several issues concerning the implementation of the national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), clearly states that all Chinese compatriots in Hong Kong are Chinese citizens, whether they hold a BNO passport or not, said the spokesperson.

If the UK persists in unilaterally changing the relevant practices, it will not only be in violation of its own position and commitments, but also of international law and basic norms. We are firmly opposed to this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures, said the spokesperson. 

"We urge the UK to view the national security law for HKSAR in an objective manner, respect China's position and concerns, and refrain from interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any way."

The BNO was a form of passport the UK gave to some Hong Kong residents before the 1997 handover. About 170,000 people with BNOs can enter the UK without a visa and stay for 180 out of 365 days, but do not have the right to live or work there. 

Citing the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, BBC reported that up to three million Hong Kong residents are to be given the opportunity to remain in the UK and even apply for citizenship. Under the plan, all BNO passport holders will be given the right to stay in the UK for five years.


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