China warns of consequences if UK offers residency to HK citizens

Police officers detain protesters during a rally against a new national security law on the 23rd anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020. The new national security law, that Beijing has tailor-made for Hong Kong, prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security. EPA-EFE/MIGUEL CANDELA

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China said on Thursday that Britain would bear all consequences for any move it took to offer Hong Kong citizens a path to settlement in the UK.

China reserved the right to act against Britain over the issue, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing, without specifying what countermeasures Beijing might take.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the citizenship offer, describing the new security legislation as a “clear and serious breach” of the deal that saw Hong Kong pass from the UK to China in 1997.

On Wednesday evening, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted that the government would be unable to force China into allowing those with BNO passports to move to the UK.

The comments from the Chinese Embassy come as Australia’s prime minister said he was also considering offering a safe haven for those in Hong Kong.

Just hours after China’s security legislation came into effect in Hong Kong on Wednesday, police began making arrests under the new law.

Those who break the law could face life in prison, as China seeks to crack down on subversion and secessionist activity in the region.

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