Home Asia China Derecognises the BN(O) Passports

China Derecognises the BN(O) Passports

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that starting January 31, China will not recognise the British National Overseas BN(O) passports. This comes after the UK announced it will allow Hong Kong residents to apply for BN(O) visas and ultimately citizenship from January 31. This move is considered symbolic and prelude to tougher actions from China.

“This move severely infringes upon China’s sovereignty, grossly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations. China deplores and rejects this,” said spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs China, Zhao Lijian .

Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British territory and sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred to China on 1 July 1997. Handover of Hong Kong marked the end of 156 years of British rule. The Sino-British Joint Declaration signed before the 1997 handover recognises the BN(O) passport only as a travel document and does not entail citizenship.

Zhao Lijian said, “In disregard of China’s solemn position and the fact that Hong Kong already returned to China 24 years ago, the British side has blatantly broken its commitment and created ‘bespoke” BNO visa route to right of abode & citizenship in the UK, and expanded its scope of application.”

The UK has announced it will start offering the BN (O) visas to Hong Kong Residents from Sunday, January 31. The BN(O) visa allows Hong Kong Residents to enter or stay in the UK for a period of 30 months (which can be extended by a further 30 months) or a period of 5 years. After this, the visa holders can apply for citizenship of the UK.

“The UK’s move grossly violates China’s sovereignty, interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, and runs counter to international law and basic norms governing international relations,” said Zhao Lijian.

The Hong Kong government also echoed Beijing’s position and declared that with effect from January 31, BN(O) passports would no longer be recognised as proof of identity. The Hong Kong officials also instructed the airlines not to accept BN(O) passports as travel documents.

In response to China’s move to derecognize the BN(O), the spokesman to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johinson said Britain will “not look the other way” when it comes to the people of Hong Kong. 

“People with British National Overseas BN(O) status now have a choice to come and live and work and study in the UK, and it remains the case that the BN(O)s and their families can use documentation, other than BN(O) passports to travel and enter the UK,” the spokesman said.