CHina has criticized the UK immigration program that allows Hong Kong residents to stay permanently in the UK. “Britain is trying to convert large numbers of Hong Kong citizens into second-class British citizens,” a foreign ministry spokesman said in Beijing on Friday. In response, he announced that China would no longer recognize passports issued by London to so-called British Citizens Overseas (BNO) in Hong Kong as travel documents. Since most Hong Kong residents travel with other documents, this is a primarily symbolic move. The spokesman said Beijing reserves the right to take further measures. He accused the UK government of “ignoring the fact that Hong Kong returned to China 24 years ago”.
The UK had announced the immigration program details shortly before. From Sunday onwards, Hong Kong residents can apply for a residence visa for up to five years. In London, the offer is expected to benefit some 300,000 Hong Kong residents out of more than five million beneficiaries.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday evening “extremely proud” that we “have opened this new road for BNO from Hong Kong to live, work and come home in our country.” This takes into consideration the “deep ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong”. “We stand up for freedom and independence – the values that are upheld in both the UK and Hong Kong.” According to one estimate, the UK economy could benefit from an inflow of more than three billion euros over the next five years. London announced the immigration program in July after China restricted freedoms in Hong Kong with the National Security Act. The British government considers the law a violation of the 1984 Treaty governing the return of Hong Kong’s Crown Colony to China. On the other hand, Beijing considers the immigration program, which opens the way to British citizenship after six years, as a breach of contract.
London can join the “Quad”
According to press reports, the British government is also considering joining what is known as “Asian NATO”. The informal group, also known as “Quad,” currently includes the United States, Australia, Japan and India. Your goal is to contain the Chinese expansion. Johnson took a first step in this direction when he invited Australia and India, along with South Korea, to the G7 summit to be held in Cornwall in June. Kurt Campbell, Asia Policy Coordinator in the US Government, recently welcomed the British initiative in an article on “Foreign Affairs” and recommended permanently expanding the Group of Seven into a group of the ten most important democracies (“D10”).