UK should stop using BN(O) issue to interfere in China's affairs: Chinese authorities
Published: Feb 01, 2023 11:20 PM
Hong Kong

Photo: VCG

The Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong and the Chinese Embassy in the UK slammed the UK side on Wednesday, saying that playing the card of the British National (Overseas) visa, known as the BN(O) scheme, is a shameful act. They urged the British side to stop interfering in China's internal affairs.                                               

Ignoring China's firm opposition and countermeasures, the UK side has been manipulating the BN(O) matter using the excuse of the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong, blatantly violating relevant agreements between China and the UK and providing protection for anti-China rioters, a spokesperson for the office said. This shows hypocrisy and ill-intentioned efforts to use Hong Kong to contain the Chinese mainland. 

The latest remarks were made after the UK Home Office said in an official video on Tuesday that "the UK is proud to have welcomed 144,500 people from Hong Kong since our BN(O) visa launch two years ago." 

The Chinese Embassy in the UK also strongly condemned the latest remarks from the British side, saying that the remarks seriously interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs, trampling on the basic norms of international relations, according to a statement released on Wednesday. 

The British side insisted on implementing the so-called BN(O) visa scheme under the pretext of the NSL for Hong Kong, seriously violating the Sino-British Joint Declaration and relevant agreements between the two sides, the embassy said.

China has officially withdrawn its recognition of BN(O) visas as a valid travel and ID document starting from January 31, 2021, as the UK began accepting applications from BN(O)-eligible Hong Kong residents starting on the same day.

All the facts have proved that by playing the BN(O) card, the UK is trying to use more Hong Kong people for its political purposes, which shifts the focus from domestic problems, the spokesperson said on Wednesday. Some media reports said that after some Hong Kong residents moved to the UK, they have had a difficult life. There have even been some reports of suicide.

The so-called right to "enjoy life" is just false rhetoric by the British side, and its hypocrisy is widely known, the spokesperson said. "The BN(O) scheme is doomed to be another unsustainable performance of hypocrisy." 

The tragic death of a 27-year-old Hong Kong master's graduate, which was suicide according to a coroner's ruling, shows the difficulties of moving to live in the UK, Hong Kong media outlet The Standard reported on Friday. 

Fion Ho Yee-king's death came after seven months of hardship, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, a migrant in London was quoted as saying in the report. 

The applicants leave Hong Kong for various reasons, such as career advancement, family reunion and settlement, further studies and retirement. Of course, some are also those who participated in and supported the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, Chu Ka Krin, a veteran current affairs commentator based in Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"The applicants may still maintain close ties and proximity with Hong Kong, and it does not mean those who leave Hong Kong are abandoning it or that they will never return to their homeland. Application for a BN(O) permit does not mean a loss of confidence in Hong Kong," Chu said. 

Staying in the UK and having affection for Hong Kong are not mutually exclusive, he said. The BN(O) is just a tentative grant to stay in UK and it does not mean right of abode or citizenship. 

The spokesperson for the Commissioner's Office urged the UK side to clearly view the general trend and stop using the BN(O) matter to cover up for anti-China rioters and stop interfering in China's internal affairs. 

With new ministers and cabinet members appointed in the UK, policies in areas including immigration keep changing and more updates are expected. These affect the immigrants and BN(O) applicants, making their future uncertain, Chu said.