China on Friday announced to invalidate British National Overseas (BNO) passports.
"China will no longer recognize so-called BNO passports as valid travel documents and identity certificates, starting Jan. 31," China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news conference in Beijing.
The move comes after the UK announced to issue special BNO visas to Hong Kongers from Sunday, allowing them to live and work in the country and eventually apply for British nationality.
"Despite the fact that it has been 24 years since Hong Kong returned to the motherland [China], the UK has blatantly broken its commitment by introducing the BNO policy, which attempts to turn a large number of Hong Kong people into 'second-class' British citizens," Zhao quoted by Chinese daily Global Times as saying.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on Friday: “I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BN(O)s to live, work and make their home in our country.”
Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997 and is now a semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
"The UK’s BNO tricks grossly infringe upon China's sovereignty, interferes in Hong Kong and China's internal affairs, and gravely violate international law and norms," said the spokesman.
In response to China imposing national security law in the semi-autonomous region last July, UK had announced the new visa scheme and will come into effect this Sunday, making Hong Kongers eligible to get British citizenship.
“In doing so we have honoured 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,” said Johnson.
In 1987, the UK created BNO as a special status specifically for Hong Kong.
Following unrest and anti-government protests in 2019, China implemented a controversial new security law in July 2020, triggering international criticism.