Hong Kong Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng said there is no clause that would allow the UK to assume any rights and responsibilities for Hong Kong citizens under the joint declaration that laid the blueprint for how the city would be ruled after its 1997 reunification with China.
Cheng made the comments on the eve of changes to the UK’s visa application program that will allow Hong Kong residents who hold a British National Overseas (BNO) passport to live, study and work in Britain for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
BNO status was created by Britain in 1987 specifically for Hong Kong residents.
In her blog, Cheng quoted Xie Feng, a former special commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, saying that the UK has no sovereignty, no jurisdiction, and no “supervision” power for Hong Kong after the handover.
While signing the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the two parties also immediately exchanged a memorandum on nationality issues, reflecting their understanding under the joint declaration.
Cheng also quoted the remarks of former British officials that if BNO holders automatically have complete British citizenship, it would violate the commitments made by China and Britain in the joint statement.
Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong in June last year prompted Britain to offer refuge to almost 3 million Hong Kong residents eligible for the BNO passport from Jan. 31.
China and the Hong Kong government had already hit back at the visa change by saying they would no longer recognise the BNO passport as a valid travel document from Sunday, Jan. 31. (Source: CNA)