The provision was made as hundreds of people were arrested in the former British colony amid protests over new security laws imposed by China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the UK “seriously violated international law and basic norms” by offering Hong Kong British National Overseas (BNO) holders the right of abode. He said: “Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs and no country has the right to interfere.
“China reserves the right to respond and the UK will bear all consequences.” He also threatened “corresponding measures” in response.
“All Chinese compatriots living in Hong Kong, including those with BNO passports, are Chinese nationals,” he said.
“The national security law for Hong Kong is to ensure the steady and sustained implementation of this important policy.”
When asked what the measures might be, he declined to comment.
Mr Johnson accused China of “plainly an unacceptable breach” of Hong Kong’s freedoms.
The row could damage Chinese tech firm Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G network, he added.
“I don’t want to see our critical national infrastructure at risk of being in any way controlled by potentially hostile state vendors,” he said. “We have to think very carefully about how to proceed.”
Unrest is spreading in Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a law that will end freedoms guaranteed for 50 years when British rule ended in 1997. Within hours, Hong Kong police, brandishing pepperspray guns, made 10 arrests, including a man with a proindependence flag. About 360 others were held at a banned rally.
Under the law – which contravenes the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration – inciting hatred of China’s government and Hong Kong’s regional government are offences. Acts including damaging public transport facilities – which happened during the 2019 protests – can be considered terrorism.
Among those condemning China yesterday was the US House of Representatives. It approved sanctions penalising banks doing business with Chinese officials. But 50 countries, led by Cuba, supported China at the UN this week.