Not ‘wise’ to allow politically-driven UK provocations against China over HK to extend to financial sector: experts
By Liu Caiyu
Global Times

A view of London phto: VCG

The decision by the Court of Common Council in the City of London to back the UK government’s plan to provide British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders in Hong Kong with access to British citizenship is a result of domestic political pressure, Chinese observers said Saturday, calling on the financial circle in the City of London to be rational and cherish China-UK fruit in the sector.

China’s embassy to the UK on Saturday expressed opposition and dissatisfaction over the move by the City of London Corporation after the local Court of Common Council, the City Corporation’s main decision-making body, recently voted to support the UK government’s plan to offer bespoke visas with a pathway to citizenship to Hong Kong residents claiming the national security law for Hong Kong breaks the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

“The City of London in recent years has been committed to promoting exchanges and financial cooperation between China and the UK. The City of London should cherish the hard-won achievements of Sino-British cooperation, recognize the reality that Hong Kong has returned to China and treat the national security law for Hong Kong objectively,” the spokesperson of the Chinese embassy said.

It’s no surprise to see the City of London publicly voice support of giving BNO passport holders in Hong Kong access to British citizenship after the UK government made the decision since the financial sector felt domestic political pressure against China, but its’s not wise to mix politics with the financial field as the involvement of politics would sabotage the momentum of China-UK development in the field, Chinese observers warned.

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Saturday that the gesture by the City of London reflects its intent of seeking survival under the background of Brexit.

It wrongly hopes it can shoulder more financial business of Hong Kong whose role in the financial sector might have been missed after the national security law.

Chinese experts said the politically driven provocation against China will harm the UK’s interests and do no good to London which is the largest RMB offshore hub outside Asia and a world-leading international financial center.

More than 30 Chinese financial firms are now based in the Square Mile, and the majority of major UK financial institutions have a presence in China.

Chen Xin, director of the economic division of the Institute of European Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times earlier that the UK says 3 million Hong Kong residents are eligible to apply, but it doesn’t say who the 3 million are and whether they are high-income earners or not, noting that the potential impact on the UK’s labor and property markets is also unknown.

Chinese spokesperson also warned that the City of London should continue to contribute to the development of China-UK relations with positive energy, not the other way around, demanding it correct its mistakes and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. Offering BNO visa holders access to British citizenship also breaches the obligations and promises of the UK, the Chinese spokesperson pointed out.

The accusation of the national security law for Hong Kong is just a “pseudo proposition” as after Hong Kong returned to China on July 1, 1997, all rights and obligations concerning the UK under the Joint Declaration had been fulfilled. No country has the right to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affair, the spokesperson of the Chinese embassy said.