China rejects British passports

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced on Friday that China would no longer recognize the British National Overseas passport as an adequate travel document. This came after a harsh feud between Beijing and London over the proposed immigration of Hong Kong residents.

Zhao Lijian, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson made the announcement on Friday. | Image: CGTN

What caused this?

The former British colony has been a special administrative region of China for over 20 years. It has been ruled by The People’s Republic of China and enjoyed similar virtues to the West. However, the Chinese Communist Party has recently been restricting autonomy and freedoms through arrests, laws, and forceful crackdowns.

This has caused countless protests across the region by pro-democratic activists. These have been raging since October 2019 and have incited foreign interference.

Riot police occupying roads in Hong Kong, October 2019. | Source: AP Photo/Kin Cheung

British Response

The United Kingdom, the former owner of Hong Kong, warned Beijing in June that they would create a “route to citizenship” if China passed their National Security Bill. The bill was passed at the end of that month and was met with outcry.

The UK announced in the following weeks that routes were being devised to allow ease of immigration from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom. It was decided that Hong Kong residents would be able to apply for BNO passports and live in the UK for 5 years before applying for citizenship. This could allow almost 75% (5.4 million) of the Hong Kong population to move to the UK indefinitely.

PM Johnson spoke in June about the erosion of Hong Kong autonomy. | Source: Getty Images

Chinese Rebuttal

China announced in January 2021 will no longer recognize the British National Overseas Passport as valid documentation of identity or travel. This will help to prevent potential mass immigration to the UK from the end of January.

The CCP firmly asserts its absolute rule over the region, despite the 1984 Sino-British joint Declaration stating that capitalist systems must continue until at least 2047. They have since stated that they have considered the treaty “null and void” since the transfer of British sovereignty in 1997.

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