The UK scheme to offer British citizenship to millions of Hong Kong residents kicks in on Sunday. According to the plan, anyone with a British National Overseas passport, a special status created under British law in 1987 that specifically relates to Hong Kong, will be able to apply for a visa to live and work in the UK from Sunday afternoon. After a five-year stay in the UK, they can apply for citizenship.
This comes as the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday said that China would no longer recognise British National Overseas passports as a travel and ID document. The ministry added that government reserves the right to take further actions concerning the matter.
The visa plan followed as a response to Beijing's decision to impose a national security law on Hong Kong after protests in 2019 and 2020. The law bans secessionist, subversive, and terrorist activities, along with any form of foreign interference. Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a decree to enact the law on 30 June 2020.
Britain has accused China of a “serious breach” of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that paved the way for Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997, saying that it violated the promise that Hong Kong would maintain key liberties and autonomy for 50 years. Meanwhile, Chinese officials urged the UK not to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs and to abandon their “cold war mentality”.