Any Britons who have vacation (or business) plans in China in the immediate future might have a new problem on their hands.
Beijing announced Friday that it would no longer recognize British National Overseas (BNO) passports as travel documents in China from Jan. 31. The statement from the Chinese came as Britain prepares to offer a new visa program to millions of Hong Kongers, according to AP News.
"From Jan. 31, China will no longer recognize the so-called BNO passport as a travel document and ID document, and reserves the right to take further actions," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
Lijian reiterated China's opposition to Britain's interference in Beijing's political affairs. He said the UK must come to terms that Hong Kong belongs to China.
"The policy of residence and naturalization in the UK has been repeatedly expanded. Britain's attempt to turn a large number of Hong Kong people into second-class British citizens has completely changed the BNO nature of the original Sino-British understanding," he said.
Lijian stressed that Britain's move violates their agreement with China making the current BNO invalid.
Last year, Beijing's passage of the national security law prompted the UK government to offer refuge for eligible Hong Kongers via BNO passports. But now the new BNO program is opening up to 5.4 million Hong Kongers.
Under the BNO policy, Hong Kongers can live and work in the UK for five years with an eventual citizenship path.
"I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BNOs to live, work and make their home in our country," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
"In doing so we have honored our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy — values both the UK and Hong Kong hold dear."
The UK government estimates around 300,000 Hong Kongers could migrate to the UK over the next five years, which would be beneficial for the British economy.
CNN points out anti-government protests across Hong Kong, in conjunction with Beijing's passage of the national security law, has resulted in an increased issuance of BNO passports among Hong Kongers
BNO Passports Printed, Monthly
Time will tell if the new BNO program will result in a mass exodus of Hong Kongers to the UK as China's communist government clamps down on the city.