China has warned the United Kingdom to cease interfering in its affairs after Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to offer 3 million Hong Kong citizens the right to come to live in the UK.
Johnson said he had no choice but to offer the visas after China’s parliament passed controversial new national security laws for Hong Kong that he says “dramatically erode” the autonomy of the semi-autonomous region guaranteed by the “one country, two systems” framework that was put into effect when Britain handed Hong Kong back over to China in 1997.
If the national security laws are enacted by China’s central government, Johnson vowed that his government would offer 12-month extendable visas to all Hong Kong citizens who are eligible to apply for a British national overseas passport — amounting to around 3 million people.
Johnson explained that these individuals will be given further immigration rights including the right to work and they would be placed upon the route to citizenship.
In response to this threat, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian warned the UK to “step back from the brink” or face “consequences” in a press conference on Wednesday:
The UK’s historical link with Hong Kong arises from the period of invasion, colonialism and unequal treaties. The UK flagrantly claims that the Hong Kong-related legislation is “authoritarian”. Well, this is precisely the word to describe its colonial rule in Hong Kong. It is after the return of Hong Kong that the residents came to enjoy unprecedented rights and freedoms.
To quote its own words, we urge the UK to “step back from the brink”, reject the Cold-War mindset and the colonial mentality, recognize and respect the fact that Hong Kong has already returned to China as a special administrative region. It should abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s domestic affairs. Otherwise, there will be consequences.