UK’s BNO offer just more troublemaking: China Daily editorial

The comparative tranquility in Hong Kong since the enactment of national security legislation — which has prompted many residents and businesses to say that the long-lost stability of the city is coming back — is a powerful rebuttal of the smears to which it has been subjected by the West.

Whatever the justifications they have offered, the behavior of those who have colluded with external powers to hijack the special administrative region with a campaign of violence has posed a direct threat to national security and the rule of law in the SAR. The new legislation has pulled the rug from under these “freedom fighters” and their foreign backers, exposing the hollowness of their claims.

Interestingly, when those secessionist-minded elements made waves, miring Hong Kong in its worst economic recession in a decade and sending it off the track of development, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not invite holders of a British National Overseas passport to come to live and work in the United Kingdom and thereafter apply for citizenship. That he has done so just when life in Hong Kong is starting to show signs of returning to normal simply shows that the UK is one of the external forces that has been getting its hands dirty meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.

His offer is simply more troublemaking. It has been made safe in the knowledge that the UK will not have to honor it. Only those whose actions have broken the law would willingly choose to leave Hong Kong for the UK, which is mired in its own divisions and the looming economic blow that seems inevitable since it is foolishly trying to hardball a deal with the European Union.

Hong Kong is no longer under its colonial rule, and the UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of supervision over the city after the handover in 1997. As the Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said, that the UK talks about changing the arrangements for the BNO passport holders in Hong Kong “constitutes a gross interference in China’s internal affairs and openly tramples on the basic norms governing international relations”.

Even UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, while ridiculously claiming the UK will “not duck” its historic responsibilities, admitted that the government had no legal power to force China into allowing those with BNO passports to move to the UK.

Johnson who entered office on a populist anti-immigrant platform is also well aware that it would be political suicide for him to open the door to nearly 3 million BNO passport holders from Hong Kong.

The Westminster wag likes to present the image of being an amiable joker. But this has been wearing increasingly thin with his government’s chaotic response to the pandemic. The BNO offer is a calculated attempt to gain political kudos at home at China’s expense. It reeks of hypocrisy and opportunism.