HONG KONG – Hong Kong residents have been offered the opportunity to apply for a new visa which offerrs them an opportunity to become British citizens. Britain’s move comes after Beijing imposed a national security law in the Asian financial hub last year.
However, both China and Hong Kong have said they will no longer recognise the British National Overseas (BNO) passport as a valid travel document from Sunday, Jan. 31.
Britain says that the security law imposed by China breaches the terms of agreements under which the colony was handed back to China in 1997 and that it is fulfilling a historic and moral commitment to people of Hong Kong people.
The UK government predicts the new visa could attract more than 300,000 people and their dependents to Britain. Beijing said it would make them second-class citizens.
The scheme, which was first announced last year, allows those with BNO status to live, study and work in Britain for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
BNO is a special status created under British law in 1987 that specifically relates to Hong Kong.
China says the West’s views on its actions over Hong Kong are clouded by misinformation and an imperial handover.