Minister of State for Asia responds to CCP’s decision not to recognise Hong Kong BN(O) passports and says “We cannot submit a case to the Court without the consent of China, and it is very clear that China would not accept that.”

Feb 18, 2021 | Featured parliamentary activity

Minister of State for Asia responds to CCP’s decision to not to recognise Hong Kong BN(O) passports and says “We cannot submit a case to the Court without the consent of China, and it is very clear that China would not accept that.”

Nigel Adams MP
Minister of State for Asia
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH


The Lord Alton of Liverpool
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

18 February 2021


Dear Lord Alton,
Thank you for your correspondence of 22 January to Lord Ahmad about British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)s). I am replying as the Minister for Asia.


I can assure you that we were disappointed, but not surprised, by the Chinese decision not to recognise BN(O) passports. However, those wishing to travel to the UK will be able to do so on any valid travel document, including a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport.

There is no requirement for applicants to apply for, or hold, a valid BN(O) passport to apply for the BN(O) visa, although applicants will be required to prove their eligibility. Where a BN(O) passport has been lost, eligibility checks can be made using historical records held by Her Majesty’s Passport Office. Valid or expired BN(O) passports should be kept and submitted with an application as evidence of an individual’s status.


We understand there may be a very small number of individuals who only hold the BN(O) document and we are working with the Home Office to explore options for this group.


We are aware that the Hong Kong authorities are now refusing to recognise dual nationality. It is wrong that they are withdrawing our consular access to British nationals in prison and preventing us from providing support we’ve given since 1997. Alongside international partners, we are urging the authorities to restore access to our nationals immediately.


I note your suggestion that the UK could take the case of BN(O)s wishing to come to the UK to the International Court of Justice. I’m afraid to say there are clear barriers to this suggestion. We cannot submit a case to the Court without the consent of China, and it is very clear that China would not accept that.

As the Foreign Secretary has said, if China chooses to put up barriers, we cannot force them to allow BN(O)s come to the UK. However, China, as a leading member of the international community, must be sensitive to their international reputation and to the free will of BN(O) status holders in Hong Kong.


We are looking forward to welcoming those who wish to settle in the UK.

Nigel Adams MP

Minister of State for Asia

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