That China will no longer recognize the so-called British National Overseas passport as a valid travel document or proof of identity is a fully justified move in response to the United Kingdom’s latest meddling in Hong Kong affairs.
China’s countermeasure took effect on Sunday after the UK announced that from that day Hong Kong residents holding “BNO passports” would be able to apply online for a visa allowing them to live and work in the UK. After that, they would be able to apply for settled status and then British citizenship.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had the gall to claim that the UK was honoring “the profound ties of history” as justification for its troublemaking.
But the world is well aware that the only time a government in the UK recalls any history is when it is foundering at home and wants to try and divert attention from whatever mess it has got itself into.
The UK likes to talk of a “historical duty” it claims it has to the Hong Kong people, but it is telling that such sense of duty only appeared after sovereignty returned to China.
The prime minister is no doubt aware that there were 733,000 registered “BNO passport” holders as of mid-January. Not to mention that the raging COVID-19 pandemic on its soil and uncertainties in the post-Brexit era make the UK an unappealing destination.
The prime minister will also know that the Chinese and UK governments reached a consensus long ago on how to deal with the issue of Hong Kong residents holding BNO passports and exchanged memorandums of understanding.
The latest move by the UK has substantively changed the nature of the BNO passport, and thus breached its own words and betrayed trust between the two countries.
The UK government intends to use BNO as a political weapon to abduct, mess up and split up Hong Kong. But Hong Kong is no longer what it used to be, and that is just a pipe dream.
But given the backing of the Chinese mainland and the development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong is sure to embrace an even brighter future, and thus, be better positioned to provide more opportunities to residents.
China has full confidence in the future of Hong Kong and will not allow any forces to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs. It is only natural for China to respond to the UK’s move and for it to take further actions as it deems necessary.