A letter from the Hong Kong government has informed several foreign consulates it no longer considered the British National Overseas (BNO) passport as a valid document as of January this year. They demanded a Hong Kong passport should be used instead.
However, a senior Western diplomat has said most countries will “ignore” the letter and said Hong Kong has “no right” to tell other nations what passports it can recognise.
They said: “Most countries are going to ignore this.
“It is the Hong Kong government just trying it on.
“They have no right to tell any state what foreign passports it can recognise.”
A Hong Kong website listed 14 countries under the reciprocal Working Holiday Scheme, such as Japan, Canada, Germany, Britain and Australia.
While China will no longer recognise BNO passports, officials in Japan, South Korea, Italy and New Zealand confirmed they still will.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said they had not received the letter while Hungary said it had.
The US said the BNO remained valid for visa-issuing purposes and travel to the country.
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Back in January, the visa scheme to allow Hong Kong residents to come to the UK opened and will offer a fast track to UK citizenship.
Mr Johnson said: “I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BNOs to live, work and make their home in our country.
“In doing so we have honoured 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.”
However, the scheme sparked a bitter row after the Chinese foreign ministry said it would no longer recognise the BNO passport.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said the scheme was a violation of China’s sovereignty and gross interference in Hong Kong and Beijing’s internal affairs.
He said: “The British side disregarded the fact that Hong Kong returned to China 24 years ago.”
The former British colony has maintained its autonomy from Beijing since 1997 when the UK handed Hong Kong back to mainland China.
The BNO status was created before the UK returned Hong Kong to mainland China.
The UK and China agreed to introduce “one country, two systems” meaning rights such as freedom of assembly, free speech and freedom of the press would be protected.
According to the BBC, the agreement signed in 1984 was set to last until 2047.