China threatens to stop recognising BNO passports of Hong Kong residents

China threatened on Thursday to withdraw its recognition of British National Overseas passports held by residents of Hong Kong, in retaliation for the former colonial ruler's policy of easing their path to citizenship.

Starting from January 2021, those in Hong Kong with such status would be able to apply for special visas to live in Britain that could eventually confer citizenship, interior minister Priti Patel said this week.

However, China opposes such a policy as interfering in domestic affairs, a spokesman for its foreign ministry said, calling the move a flagrant violation of Britain's promises, international law and principles of international relations.

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When President XI visited London
File photo dated 20/10/2015 of Chinese President Xi Jinping with Queen Elizabeth II at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, during his state visit to the UK. A pop-up book, a painting of a swimming pig and a bottle of gin were among the official gifts given to the Queen last year.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge greets President of China Mr Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan at a creative industry event at Lancaster House in London on October 21, 2015.
A staff member adjusts the Vessel of Friendship, a model of the 'treasure ship' sailed by 15th-century Chinese navigator and diplomat Zeng He, presented to Queen Elizabeth II by President Xi Jinping of China in 2015, during a preview for the exhibition of Royal Gifts, which is part of the annual Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, London.
Well wishers (left) and anti-Chinese protestors (right) hold flags and placards as Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Duke of York visit Inmarsat in London.
Demonstrators hold placards as Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Duke of York visit Inmarsat in London.
(left to right) Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, the Duke of York, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Andy Sukawaty, Chairman of Inmarsat, and Greg Hands, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, pose for a photograph during a visit to Inmarsat in London, on the third day of his state visit to the UK.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh bid farewell to President of China Xi Jinping and his wife, Madame Peng Liyuan, at Buckingham Palace in London.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh bid farewell to President of China Xi Jinping and his wife, Madame Peng Liyuan, at Buckingham Palace in London.
Madame Peng Liyuan and Chinese President Xi Jinping listen to speeches during a visit to Imperial College London during the State Visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, London.
Chinese President Xi Jinping with the Duchess of Cambridge at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, during the first day of his state visit to the UK.
China's president Xi Jinping makes a speech at a banquet at the Guildhall in London on the second day of his state visit as Lord Mayor Alderman Alan Yarrow looks on.
The Duke of York (left) speaks with Chancellor George Osborne (centre) during the State Visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, London.
Chinese President Xi Jinping with the Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Elizabeth II at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, during the first day of his state visit to the UK.
(from left) Chancellor George Osborne, Madame Peng Liyuan and Chinese President Xi Jinping listen to speeches during a visit to Imperial College London during the State Visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, London.
China's president Xi Jinping sits alongside the Duke of York at a banquet at the Guildhall in London on the second day of his state visit.
Lord Mayor Alderman Alan Yarrow and Lady Mayoress Gilly Yarrow greet the Duke of York at a banquet at the Guildhall in London on the second day of Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit.
(Left to right) The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and his wife Peng Liyuan, view a display of Chinese items from the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace in London, during the first day of the Chinese state visit.
The red carpet is rolled out before Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes the President of China, Xi Jinping, to 10 Downing Street in London.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge greet President of China Mr Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan at a creative industry event at Lancaster House in London on October 21, 2015.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge wait in the rain to greet President of China Mr Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan at a creative industry event at Lancaster House in London on October 21, 2015.
China's President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister David Cameron attend a commercial contract exchange at the UK-China Business Summit at Mansion House, London, on the second day of Xi's state visit.
China's President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister David Cameron attend a commercial contract exchange at the UK-China Business Summit at Mansion House, London, on the second day of Xi's state visit.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid and China's Minister Gao Hucheng sign an agreement as Prime Minister David Cameron and China's President Xi Jinping watch at Number 10 Downing Street in London on the second day of his state visit to the UK.
China's President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister David Cameron attend a joint press conference in 10 Downing Street, in central London on the second day of his state visit to the UK.
China's President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister David Cameron shake hands at the end of their joint press conference in 10 Downing Street, in central London on the second day of his state visit to the UK.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the President Xi Jinping of The People's Republic of China and his wife Madame Peng Liyuan as they visit a creative industry event at Lancaster House, London on day two of the President's state visit to the UK.
The President of China, Xi Jinping (centre) arrives at Lancaster House in London, where he attended an event celebrating the cultural collaboration, existing and future, between the UK and China.
The President of China, Xi Jinping (right) leaves Lancaster House in London, where he attended an event celebrating the cultural collaboration, existing and future, between the UK and China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a BAFTA presentation at Lancaster House in London.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and the Duchess of Cambridge attend a BAFTA presentation at Lancaster House in London.
Madame Peng Liyuan listens to speeches during a visit to Imperial College London, on day two of the state visit by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Duke of Cambridge with the President of China, Xi Jinping, at Lancaster House in London, after they attended an event celebrating the cultural collaboration, existing and future, between the UK and China.
People wait outside Imperial College London ahead of the visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping on day two of the state visit by the Chinese President.
A general view of the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace, London, during a state banquet in honour of Chinese President Xi Jinping during the first day of his state visit to the UK.
President of China Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan accompany Queen Elizabeth II as they arrive for a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in London, on the first full day of his state visit to the UK.
President of The People's Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, meets the Prince of Wales at Clarence House, London for China Tea on the first day of the President's state visit to the UK.
President of The People's Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, meets the Prince of Wales at Clarence House, London for China Tea on the first day of the President's state visit to the UK.
President of The People's Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping and China's First Lady Peng Liyuan, meet the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, London for China Tea on the first day of the President's state visit to the UK.
China President Xi Jinping addresses MPs and peers in the Palace of Westminster's Royal Gallery in London on the first full day of his state visit to the UK.
A member of the Household Cavalry on Horse Guards Parade, London, ahead of a ceremonial welcome for the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan on the first day of their state visit to the UK.
Queen Elizabeth II at Horse Guards Parade, London, during the ceremonial welcome for Chinese President Xi Jinping on the first day of his state visit to the UK.
The Duke of Edinburgh accompanies Chinese President Xi Jinping (left), as he inspects a Guard of Honour during the ceremonial welcome on Horse Guards Parade, London, for the President on the first day of his state visit to the UK.
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects a guard of honour during the official welcome ceremony at Horseguards Parade in London, on the first official day of the Chinese state visit.
Members of the Household Cavalry on Horse Guards Parade, London, ahead of a ceremonial welcome for the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan on the first day of their state visit to the UK.
Queen Elizabeth II at Horse Guards Parade, London, during the ceremonial welcome for Chinese President Xi Jinping on the first day of his state visit to the UK.
The Duke of Edinburgh and Chinese President Xi Jinping inspect the troops at Horse Guards Parade, London, during the ceremonial welcome for the president on the first day of his state visit to the UK.
A protester at The Mall in London, as Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive on the first day of their state visit to the UK.
The Duke of Edinburgh accompanies the President of The People's Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping (nearest camera), as he inspects a Guard of Honour during the ceremonial welcome on Horse Guards Parade, London, for the President on the first day of his state visit to the UK.
The Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales greet Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London, on the first official day of their state visit.
The crowds on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace, London, on day one of the Chinese state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese President Xi Jinping leaves 10 Downing Street in London after he met with Prime Minister David Cameron on the second day of his state visit to the UK.
Well wishers wave flags as Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Duke of York visit Inmarsat in London.
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"As the English side is the first to violate the promise, China will consider not recognising BNO passports as a valid travel document, and reserves the right to take further measures," the spokesman, Wang Wenbin, told a news briefing.

Even before Britain's offer, China did not recognise such passports as a valid document for mainland entry by residents of Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Instead, it required them to use travel permits issued by China.

London's decision, which could allow nearly three million Hong Kong residents to settle in Britain, came after Beijing imposed a new security law that democracy activists fear would end the freedoms promised to the territory in 1997.

In a statement, the British consulate in Hong Kong said the immigration route granting the right to live, work or study in Britain was offered following the Chinese government's decision to impose the new national security law.

Britain says the law breaches the terms of the handover treaty agreed in 1984. China accuses Britain of interfering in Hong Kong and Chinese affairs.

"The Chinese side urges the British side to recognise the reality that Hong Kong has returned to China, to look at the Hong Kong national security law objectively and immediately correct its mistakes," China's embassy in London said in a statement on Thursday.

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