UK urged to correct mistakes on BN(O) visa policy
China Daily

People cross a road in the Central district in Hong Kong on September 27, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)

HONG KONG - The Commissioner's Office of the Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region strongly disapproved of and firmly opposed the British government's breach of its commitment by willfully pushing ahead a new BN(O) visa policy.

The office also strongly opposed the groundless accusations by the British Consul-General to Hong Kong against the National Security Law for the HKSAR, said a spokesperson for the office in a statement issued on Friday afternoon.

The office urged the UK side to immediately correct its mistakes, end the hypocrisy and stop political maneuvering.

The spokesperson said that the UK declared in the memorandum exchanged with China before Hong Kong's return that it will not confer the right of abode in the United Kingdom on Chinese nationals in Hong Kong holding BN(O) passports. "Therefore, by offering BN(O) holders a pathway to the right of abode and citizenship, the UK has openly breached its commitment, and grossly interfered with Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs as a whole in violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations."

The spokesperson pointed out that the UK side has even distorted the Sino-British Joint Declaration in a bid to shift the blame onto China.

Doomed is any attempt by the UK to meddle with Hong Kong affairs by manipulating the BN(O) issue. We urge the UK side to immediately correct its mistakes, and stop political maneuvering that will only backfire.

Spokesperson for Commissioner's Office of the Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR

"The truth, though, is that the Joint Declaration is essentially about China's resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and arrangements for the transitional period. In all the eight paragraphs and three annexes of the document, there is no single word or article that confers any responsibility on the UK over Hong Kong after the city's return. In brief, the UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of supervision over Hong Kong since its return. So there is no such 'commitment to the people of Hong Kong' on the UK side," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson emphasized that it is the legitimate power of each sovereign state to safeguard national security through legislation, and no foreign country shall interfere. The national security law for the HKSAR has plugged the loophole in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong, and marked a major turning point for Hong Kong to regain its stability.

"The rampant 'Hong Kong independence' movement and black violence have been effectively curbed. The majority of Hong Kong citizens have resumed normal lives, free from fear of violence or being targeted by rioters, with rights and freedoms better protected. But the UK has turned a blind eye to all these facts and tried to vilify the national security law, only to expose its intention to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China at large."

The spokesperson pointed out that it was exactly the UK, which accused China of restricting the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, that did so during its rule in the city. Over the more than 150 years of its rule here, the UK granted no democracy or human rights whatsoever to Hong Kong citizens, and each governor was appointed by the British government.

"When the British government ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICCPR) in 1976, it reserved the right not to apply the provisions about the right to election at genuine periodic elections to Hong Kong. The Public Order Ordinance and the Societies Ordinance during the British rule imposed draconian restrictions on activities of assembly, procession and association. It was not until Hong Kong was about to return to China that the UK amended the ordinances to loosen the restrictions out of ulterior motives," the spokesperson said.

"Not saying a single word about its record of restricting Hong Kong people's rights and freedoms, the UK has instead slung mud at China. But the fact is not to be denied, that it is not until Hong Kong's return that the democracy, human rights and freedoms of our Hong Kong compatriots have been established and safeguarded."

The spokesperson emphasized that Hong Kong is part of China, and its affairs are China's internal affairs.

"Doomed is any attempt by the UK to meddle with Hong Kong affairs by manipulating the BN(O) issue. We urge the UK side to immediately correct its mistakes, and stop political maneuvering that will only backfire," the spokesperson said.