İrem UZUN -TDO- China has announced it will no longer recognize the passports of British national overseas citizens just hours after the UK launched its scheme to give passport holders a path to residency as political freedoms decline in Hong Kong.  “From 31 January, China will no longer recognize the so-called BNO passport as a travel document and ID document, and reserves the right to take further actions,” the foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, told reporters.

Britain created the path to citizenship for an estimated 5.2 million Hong Kongers last year after China imposed a national security law on the former British colony that was criticized as an infringement on civil rights.  "The British side's attempt to turn a large number of Hong Kong people into second-class British citizens has completely changed the nature of the two sides' original understanding of BNO," Zhao said. "This move seriously infringes on China's sovereignty, grossly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs, and seriously violates international law and the basic norms of international relations," he added.

The United Kingdom is preparing to welcome potentially tens of thousands of migrants from Hong Kong this Sunday. In a statement on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "we have honored our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy -- values both the UK and Hong Kong hold dear."

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