Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

BNO Visas for Hong Kong residents


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BNO visa

Mains level : Hong-Kong/ Taiwan Issue

Hong Kong residents can apply for a new visa offering them an opportunity to become British citizens after Beijing’s imposition of a national security law last year.

What is the news?

  • The move comes as China and Hong Kong have said they will no longer recognise the British National Overseas (BNO) passport as a valid travel document from Sunday, January 31.
  • Britain and China have been arguing for months about what London and Washington say is an attempt to silence dissent in Hong Kong after pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020.

What is the British move for citizenship?

  • The scheme, which was first announced last year, allows those with BNO status to live, study and work in Britain for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
  • BNO is a special status created under British law in 1987that specifically relates to Hong Kong.
  • Britain says it is fulfilling a historic and moral commitment to Hong Kong people after Beijing imposed the security law on the semi-autonomous city.
  • Britain says breaches the terms of agreements under which the colony was handed back to China in 1997.
  • The U.K. government forecasts the new visa could attract more than 300,000 people and their dependants to Britain.

Chinese stance on the move

  • China says the West’s views on its actions over Hong Kong are clouded by misinformation and an imperial handover.
  • Beijing also said that it would no longer be recognising BN(O) passports, saying that the citizenship offer “seriously infringed” on China’s sovereignty.
  • It is unclear, however, how this could deter Hong Kongers from leaving since city residents are usually known to use Hong Kong passports while leaving for another country.
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