Tensions are rising between London and Beijing due to the situation in Hong Kong. China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, warned on Thursday that Downing Street would violate the agreements between the two countries – the 1997 sovereignty restitution treaty – if it finally opens the door for three million citizens of the former colony can obtain British nationality, as promised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson a month ago. A promise ratified on Wednesday by British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab after the new national security legislation, just imposed yesterday, came into force in Hong Kong, making it illegal to defend the country’s independence and invoke foreign powers to defend the current status of the historic enclave.
Xiaoming has called the Johnson government’s criticism of the law “irresponsible and unjustified.” In fact, China has said that the United Kingdom does not have the right to grant residence, let alone citizenship, to the people of Hong Kong, and has promised to take “appropriate action” to stop this initiative.
In a article published in The Times last month, Johnson called the new Chinese law on the ex-colony “drastic erosion.” And he promised British overseas passport holders that after an initial six-month stay in the country, extendable to one year, citizens of the former colony could obtain British nationality once they had applied for the license. ‘resident status and would have spent five years in the country.
But London’s position and announcement is little more than symbolic. The Foreign Minister admitted this Wednesday in the House of Commons that the former metropolis can do very little to defend the rights and the already very fragile democracy of the citizens of Hong Kong.
In this regard, Ambassador Xiaoming has made it very clear: “Tots Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong are Chinese nationals, whether or not they hold the passport of the British Dependent Territories or the British National Passport. If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and commitments, as well as international law. We strongly oppose this and reserve the right to take appropriate action, “he said in a statement statement posted on the diplomatic legation website. “The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of oversight over Hong Kong.”
Xiaoming’s words are a reminder of a historic failure of the United Kingdom as a colonial power and the realization of the impossibility of opposing the will of the Asian giant as to the fate of Hong Kong. The handover ceremony, negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, and formalized at the ceremony from June 30 to July 1, 1997, was, in practice, a farce made up under the mask of the slogan “One country, two systems”, which was to last at least half a century. Twenty-three years later, however, the two systems are increasingly one and the same.
The test is the iron hand applied by Beijing hours after the new national security law came into force. In the protests that have taken place in the last 48 hours against the law, more than 400 people have been arrested.
London and Beijing, which only five years ago lived a honeymoon for the offices of David Cameron and George Osborne as endorsers of the Xi Jinping regime, which was received at the palace of the Buckingham with all pomp and circumstance, are on their way to a new cold war. The covid-19 crisis, and the suspicions raised by Beijing’s attitude have only fueled the fire of growing distrust.