China warns UK not to offer citizenship to Hong Kong residents

China warns UK not to offer citizenship to Hong Kong residents
British National Overseas Passports will give Hong Kong people a pathway to the UK. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: After the UK reaffirmed its plan to offer a route to British citizenship to almost three million people living in Hong Kong, China has told Britain to “immediately correct its mistakes”.

The citizenship offer was made in July when China imposed a controversial and strict national security law on the former British colony.

Critics say it undermines the civil freedoms that Beijing agreed to uphold when Hong Kong was handed back in 1997.

China has previously warned the UK not to meddle in “domestic issues” and its warning on Friday came from the Hong Kong arm of China’s Foreign Ministry.

The UK’s offer is not for all residents of Hong Kong, but only those holding a British National Overseas (BNO) passport. Only those born before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China have the right to hold one.

According to the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, around 300,000 people currently hold a BNO passport in the territorry, while an estimated 2.9 million people are eligible for it.

Analysts from the UK government estimate that up to one million people could take up the offer to live in the UK when the new visa becomes available in January.

Critics say the new visa law won’t protect young pro-democracy protesters who were born after 1997 and they are primarily targeted by the security law.

The law was introduced in July, in response to repeated protests in Hong Kong demanding more democracy and less Chinese influence. It targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison.

You may read: The flashpoints in a year of anger in Hong Kong