The UK has doubled down on its proposed pathway to citizenship for Hong Kong residents and has pledged to not “look the other way” after China said it would not recognise the British National (Overseas) passport as a travel or identification document. As per the BBC report, the spokesperson of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Britain has 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.”
The official added, “And it remains the case that BNOs and their families can use documentation other than BNO passports to travel and enter the UK.” A UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said they were "disappointed but not surprised" by the Chinese government’s decision not to recognise BNO passports.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on January 28 announced the new visa scheme that offered qualifying Hong Kong citizens a route to British citizenship allowing millions of Hongkongers to begin applying to live and work in the UK when a historic immigration scheme for British National Overseas citizens finally opens its doors on January 31.
Britain had also accused China of breaking the pledge it made ahead of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover that the financial hub would continue to have key freedom and autonomy for at least 50 years. The UK also argued it as its moral duty to protect the subjects of the former British colony.
UK’s announcement triggered retaliation from Beijing with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian telling reporters that “From January 31, China will no longer recognise the so-called BN(O) passport as a travel document and ID document, and reserves the right to take further actions.”
However, it still remains unclear what China’s latest declaration implies for Hong Kongers in practical terms but it has set the stage of further confrontation between London and Beijing. Just last year, Chinese authorities had warned that they might consider ending BN(O) passport recognition. At the time, it had also said that BN(O) holders will be unable to travel to the Chinese mainland.