Chinese officials have threatened to take retaliatory measures if the UK reaffirms its plan to offer citizenship to Hong Kong residents.
In July, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that Hong Kong’s British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders and their immediate dependents will be entitled to apply for a special UK visa from January.
According to the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, 300,000 people currently hold a BNO passport, while almost 2.9 million have the entitlement to apply for it.
China warned the UK to “immediately correct its mistakes” and not to interfere in “domestic issues”.
In response to the UK`s reaffirmation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “The Chinese government has repeatedly made clear its strong stance on this issue, but the British side has insisted on interfering with Hong Kong affairs and China’s domestic issues.
“As the British side broke its own promises, the Chinese government will consider not recognising the BNO passport as a valid travel document, and reserve the right to impose further measures.”
If the UK continues with its plan, up to one million people could take up the offer to live in the country, UK government analysts estimated. Those who hold BNO passports already have the right to visit UK visa-free for six months.
On Friday, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry’s Hong Kong office also said he “strongly opposed and firmly objected” to the UK move.