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China has threatened to block Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s offering almost three million Hong Kong residents citizenship. It comes amid a row over China’s implementation of the controversial new security laws in Hong Kong – which is supposed to be autonomous from the mainland. Mr Johnson’s move came after what he described as “a clear and serious breach” of China’s commitment to protect the freedoms of those living in Hong Kong.
The UK has promised to speed the process up and boost rights for British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders in Hong Kong following the introduction of legislation which clamps down on secession, subversion and terrorism in the former British colony.
The Foreign Office said a new immigration route would allow people to come to the UK without the existing six-month limit, granting them five years limited leave to remain followed by the chance to apply for citizenship.
The Chinese embassy in London, meanwhile, said it “firmly” opposed the plan to make it easier for people in Hong Kong to come to the UK to live and work.
The move has inflamed relations between China and the UK, as China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, on Thursday said all “Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong are Chinese nationals, whether or not they are holders of the British Dependent Territories Citizens passport or the British National (Overseas) passport”.
He warned: “If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law.
”We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures.
“The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of ‘supervision’ over Hong Kong.”
It isn’t the first time China has issued the UK a warning over its position on China and its political machinations.
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Last year, the communist nation warned that “serious consequences” would happen should Britain choose to sail its HMS Queen Elizabeth into the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
It came as the US defence secretary, Mark Esper, called for the help of allies, including the UK, in standing up to what he claimed was Beijing’s “attempts to disrupt the international order” and seek “domination”.
China warned the UK not to take “hostile action” and be lured into carrying out “dirty jobs” for Washington.
Mr Liu took the opportunity to warn the UK not to meddle with the protests, which were at the time peaking, in Hong Kong.
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He accused some British politicians of taking a “colonial” attitude towards the situation in the autonomous region, and even claimed they were fanning the protests.
Talking to journalists in London at the time, Mr Liu explained that China would have to eventually intervene in the protests, and warned the UK of the consequences should it decide to step in.
He said: “If the riots become uncontrollable for the Hong Kong SAR government, China cannot sit on its hands and watch.
“Hong Kong is part of China.
“We can’t watch this violence go on and on.
“As long as you do not interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs, I do not see there will be a problem.
“But some UK politicians still have a colonial mindset.
“They make irresponsible remarks to show support to demonstrators and rioters, and that is a problem.”
Gavin Williamson, the current education secretary, and former defence secretary, at the time confessed the UK may in the future “have to intervene” to confront aggression from states like China who “flout international law” and are “resurgent” in rebuilding their armed forces.
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