China has responded with anger to the UK threat to pave the way for former UK citizens from Hong Kong to become British citizens. „We are determined against it. We reserve the right to take appropriate action, ”said a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing. All Chinese in Hong Kong – a British crown colony until 1997 – are Chinese citizens.
The British government had threatened to naturalize former subjects in the dispute over Beijing’s security law for Hong Kong on Friday. When China introduced the law, options would be explored to give citizens of the ex-colony a path to British citizenship, Interior Minister Priti Patel said.
Three million would be justified
So far, Hong Kong citizens have been able to stay in the UK for up to six months without a visa if they have British National Overseas (BNO) status and are in possession of a valid ID. According to London, this is currently around 350,000 people. In theory, however, almost three million former subjects would be entitled to apply for a corresponding passport.
This week, the Beijing People’s Congress approved the plans for the so-called National Security Protection Act and instructed the Parliament’s Standing Committee to implement it. The law bypasses Hong Kong’s parliament. It targets activities that are considered subversive or separatist.
In the Chinese special administrative zone there have been protests against the influence from Beijing for months. Britain and many other western countries are concerned that the law will undermine Hong Kong’s special status.