China No Longer Admits It! What Exactly Is A BNO Passport?

- Feb 01, 2021-

China said on Friday that it would not recognize the British National Overseas (BNO) passport as a valid travel document or proof of identity starting from Sunday, as the United Kingdom will make available a new visa for almost 3 million Hong Kong BNO status holders on that day.


In 1984, China and Britain signed a joint statement confirming that Hong Kong will return to the motherland on January 1, 1997. According to the principle of the joint declaration, after the reunification, Hong Kong residents will acquire the nationality of the People's Republic of China, and the passport of that second-class "citizen" will automatically expire. Of course, it has been 142 years since Hong Kong was stolen by the British. There were also people from India, Vietnam and other places.


Some people wanted to keep contact with the United Kingdom, so the British government tailored a new passport for Hong Kong, which is about to return. . This kind of passport is the BNO passport that is causing trouble today, the full name is British National Overseas, British National (Overseas).


According to the official website of the British government, the passport holder can obtain British consular protection overseas, and visa-free travel to some British overseas territories, but the visa can only be exempted for half a year to enter the UK, and it is still necessary to apply for more than that. In addition, the official website of the British government emphasizes that the passport holder does not automatically have the right to reside or work in the UK, nor is it recognized by the European Union.


Objectively speaking, this can indeed prevent Hong Kong residents from becoming stateless, and it can also allow Hong Kong residents to travel more conveniently. So perhaps because of the convenience of Hong Kong residents, the Chinese government did not block the road during the negotiations on the return of Hong Kong. The two sides exchanged memorandums on this. The British side explicitly promised not to grant Hong Kong Chinese citizens holding BNO passports the right of abode in the UK. The Chinese government It is not recognized as a travel document. It is useless to take this passport to the mainland of the motherland, and don't even think about applying for British consular protection in the mainland of the motherland.


In other words, Hong Kong citizens holding BNO passports are still Chinese citizens rather than British citizens. This is something that cannot be ignored. In fact, there is a line on the BNO passport, indicating that the passport holder has an ID card of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and its number. 


Since July 1, 1987, BNO passports are open to Hong Kong residents to apply, and they will no longer be accepted from July 1, 1997. Originally, this matter was over. This kind of passport was originally a transitional arrangement for a generation, and it will slowly disappear in history. But when the chaos in Hong Kong supported by Western forces in 2019 came, some people in the UK began to take advantage of this.


On July 22, the British government announced new visa regulations, announcing that from 2021, Hong Kong citizens holding BNO passports can apply for special visas to stay in the UK and can also bring immediate family members, including children born after July 1, 1997. In October, the British side stated that it would open the channel from January 30, 2021, and specifically allow BNO passport holders to apply for a British visa through a special channel, and to apply for permanent residence after five years of residence. This is actually a violation of the Sino-British exchange memorandum, so China stated at the time that it might consider not recognizing the validity of the passport, and it has done so now. 


So in Hong Kong today, this BNO passport is just a piece of waste paper.