BNO scheme expansion a damp squib: Foreign Ministry

The Foreign Ministry’s office in Hong Kong on Friday strongly condemned and firmly rejected the UK government’s decision to expand the so-called “lifeboat scheme” that provides a route to British citizenship for younger Hongkongers.

The scheme, which opened a year ago, is currently only available to British National (Overseas) passport holders born before the handover in 1997.

But a campaign for it to be expanded was carried out for months, before the UK government on Thursday agreed to also include BNO holders’ children who are now aged 18 or above, with the change expected to take effect in October.

A spokesman of the Office of the Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong said London’s decision “grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs and Hong Kong affairs, and seriously violated international law and basic norms governing international relations.”

“The person without integrity cannot be a real man, and the country without integrity has no prestige,” the spokesman said.

In a statement titled “British repeated manipulation of BNO scheme is damp squib and will backfire”, the spokesman said as the UK “openly provided shelters for anti-China forces in Hong Kong”, it had laid out “in plain sight its hypocrisy and motive to disrupt Hong Kong”.

“We urge the British side to recognise the historical trend, abandon colonial nostalgia in Hong Kong, correct wrongdoings and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form, otherwise it will bear the consequences,” the spokesman said.