The Sun has set on the British empire, but it seems that some in London have yet to wake up from their colonial dreams.
Beginning on Sunday, Hong Kong residents who hold the so-called British National Overseas (BNO) passports can apply for settlement and British citizenship. Such a political manipulation driven by a colonial thinking is a flagrant interference in China’s internal affairs, which will take another toll on bilateral ties and further hurt Britain’s own long-term interests.
As an immediate countermeasure, China said it will no longer recognize the BNO passport as a valid travel document or for identification from Sunday and reserves the right to take further actions.
Britain’s tailored policy for Hong Kong residents reflects that the outdated mentality of colonialism still doggedly persist in the minds of some decision-makers in London. They are still pretending that they have some kind of a special responsibility for Hong Kong, which is handed back to China more than two decades ago.
The truth is that from the moment the handover of Hong Kong was done, all the rights and obligations regarding Britain in the Sino-British Joint Declaration were fulfilled.
It means that Britain has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of “supervision” over Hong Kong since then, and the “historical duty” it claimed it has to the Hong Kong people is as misleading as it is fictional.
Obviously, there are at least three calculations behind its new BNO policy: to cash in on those immigrants from Hong Kong, who could bring considerable economic benefits to Britain; to sow more seeds of chaos and divisions in Hong Kong; and to force Beijing to compromise on issues related to Hong Kong, particularly the national security law.
In the past two and half years, London has repeatedly tried to make waves in Hong Kong. The Chinese city, in its eyes, is no more than a geo-political leverage.
The birth of the law to safeguard national security in Hong Kong is the constitutional obligation of the Chinese government and a fundamental move to restore stability in one of the world’s most robust financial hubs. Beijing will not give in for doing the right thing.
Those British politicians who are strategizing to profit from fueling instability in Hong Kong and challenging China’s sovereignty, may feel “immensely proud” about their BNO tactic.
However, they are just penny-wise and pound-foolish. A healthy and stable China-Britain relationship is vital for both. Creating tensions between the two countries will endanger their mutually beneficial cooperation and overshadow the prospect of bilateral ties in the post-pandemic and post-Brexit era.
London should drop its obsession with colonialism and call off provocations against China’s core interests. Holding onto an inglorious past will not help with Britain’s present-day global relevance.