China waiting for details of UK's Hong Kong citizenship offer: Envoy

Britain has said it would offer around three million Hong Kong residents a path to British citizenship. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (REUTERS) - China will decide its response to Britain's offer of citizenship to British National Overseas (BNO) passport-holders in Hong Kong once it has seen details of the plan, China's ambassador to Britain said on Monday (July 6).

"We hope that they will reconsider their position. With regard to what the response China is going to make, we have to wait and see what will be the specific actions of the British side," Mr Liu Xiaoming told reporters.

Mr Liu accused Britain of gross interference and of making irresponsible remarks since Beijing introduced new security legislation in the former British colony of Hong Kong.

Britain has said that China's imposition of a security law on Hong Kong was a "clear and serious" violation of the 1984 Joint Declaration and that London would offer around three million residents of the former colony a path to British citizenship.

"The UK government keeps making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs," ambassador Liu Xiaoming told reporters in an online media conference, saying it had made unwarranted accusations about the security law.

On Britain's offer to give British National Overseas (BNO) passport-holders in Hong Kong a path to British citizenship, he said: "This move constitutes gross interference in China's internal affairs."

Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson describes himself as a "Sinophile", he has also spoken of the need to "stick up for our friends in Hong Kong", straining relations with Beijing.

He has also toughened his language on a provisional decision to allow China's Huawei to be involved in the development of Britain's 5G infrastructure, saying he would protect critical infrastructure from "hostile state vendors".

Mr Johnson has faced intense pressure from the United States and some British lawmakers to ban the telecommunications equipment-maker on security grounds.

But Mr Liu said that although it wanted friendly relations with Britain, there would be consequences if Britain treated China with suspicion in making its decision.

"We want to be your friend. We want to be your partner. But if you want to make China a hostile country, you will have to bear the consequences," he said.

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