The Chinese government has vowed to halt the United Kingdom (UK) from granting residency to Hong Kongers. China says that it will take corresponding measures to stop any move by the UK allowing Hong Kong residents to emigrate to the UK.
The latest announcement by China comes after British Prime Boris Johnson promised to honour a promise to offer nearly 3 million residents of the former British colony, those with British National (Overseas) status (BNO), the right to settle in the UK.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, said that such a move would be a violation of agreements between the two countries and labelled Britain’s criticism of the security law in Hong Kong as irresponsible and unwarranted. Liu even took to twitter to dismiss the UK’s planned move to offer residency to Hong Kongers.
#HongKong is part of China and Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs. The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of “supervision” over Hong Kong whatsoever. Gone are the days when Hong Kong were under British colonial rule. https://t.co/Ncs0v3UTEZ
— Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) July 1, 2020
Xiaoming also said that that all Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong are Chinese nationals, whether or not they are holders of the British Dependent Territories Citizens passport or the British National (Overseas) passport.
“If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law,’’ he said. In a statement posted on the embassy website, Xiaoming clarified that the UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of supervision over Hong Kong.
Dominic Raab, First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, on Wednesday, said that although Britain is trying to help Hong Kongers, there was little Britain could do to “coercively force” Beijing if it tried to block take-up of the government’s visa pledge.
Speaking to ITV, Raab said that the UK was working with other countries to offer residents leaving Hong Kong an option to settle in other countries in the region. As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders, while the government estimated there are around 2.9 million BNOs living in Hong Kong.
Australia is one such country that is planning to offer safe haven visas to Hong Kong residents The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet have been working on measures to respond to China’s increasing control of Hong Kong since the new laws were proposed at the National People’s Congress in May.
The UK believes that the new security legislation passed by Beijing breaches the Sino-British joint declaration inked in 1984. As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, China had announced that it has no legal obligation to uphold the Sino-British declaration.
Fears are rife in Hong Kong as the new security law drafted by Beijing came into effect. The new law includes the following as offences– Secession, Subversion, Terrorist Activities, and Collusion with a Foreign Country or with External Elements to Endanger National Security. All four offences can invite life imprisonment as the maximum punishment, followed by lesser penalties.
According to CNN, at least 370 people were arrested on Wednesday, including 10 on suspicion of violating the national security law.
China believes that the national security law is another step forward towards decolonization and for maintaining security and integrity of Hong Kong. Pro-democracy Hong Kongers, the United States and the UK believe it is an attack on the autonomy of Hong Kong and will reduce the freedom and liberty enjoyed by the region.