The Chinese ambassador to London on Monday accused the UK of " gross interference in Chinese internal affairs " after the British decision to facilitate Hong Kong citizens' access to citizenship in reaction to the new Chinese security law.
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Beijing expressed " deep concern and strong opposition " to the measure, said Liu Xiaoming at a press conference, noting that the United Kingdom had " no sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over Hong Kong " .
" This measure constitutes gross interference in the internal affairs of China and openly flouts the basic standards governing international relations ," he said. " We have to decide our countermeasures in accordance with the actions that will actually be taken by the British side, " added the diplomat.
Extending immigration rights to Hong Kong residents
The United Kingdom announced last week its intention to expand immigration rights for Hong Kong residents on the grounds that the Beijing-imposed security law was a “ clear violation ” of the autonomy of the former British colony. This territory had been returned to China in 1997, on condition that certain freedoms, as well as judicial and legislative autonomy, be preserved for 50 years.
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London plans to modify the conditions attached to the “ British overseas passport ”, the BN (O), in order to make them more favorable and allow holders to come and live and work in the United Kingdom, and ultimately to access more easily to British citizenship.
There are around 350,000 holders of this passport, a figure that has almost doubled since the start of the dispute in Hong Kong against the central government in Beijing a year ago. But 2.9 million other Hong Kongers, in fact all those born before 1997, are also eligible.
The national security law, promulgated at the end of June after a wave of protests for liberties in Hong Kong, plans to punish separatist, " terrorist " activities, subversion, or even foreign interference in the Chinese autonomous territory.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman reiterated on Monday that the national security law was " a clear and serious violation " of the joint declaration signed in 1984 by the United Kingdom and China, which paved the way for the retrocession in 1997. " We said that we would modify the immigration rights for BN (O) holders if China applied this law and we kept our promise, " he added.