- China threatens to no longer recognize the British passports of many Hong Kong citizens, a relic of its status as a British colony until 1997.
- Boris Johnson's government has given Hong Kong citizens the opportunity to live and work in Britain after Beijing imposed a draconian new security law on the region.
- China's UK ambassador warned on Thursday that Beijing would take steps to invalidate British national (overseas) passports, potentially trapping up to three million people in Hong Kong.
- Liu Xiaoming said, "If you don't want to be a partner and our friend and want to treat China as an enemy power, you pay the price."
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
China threatens to end the recognition of British passports by millions of Hong Kongers, creating the prospect that up to three million people may not leave the region.
Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, issued the threat on Thursday in the recent escalation of a dispute between London and Beijing that began when China imposed a draconian security law on Hong Kong, a former British colony.
The new law, after which hundreds of democracy protesters were arrested in Hong Kong, caused Boris Johnson's British government to offer all Hong Kong citizens – around three million people – the opportunity to live in Britain on a five-year temporary holiday and working could then lead to full British citizenship.
Xiaoming yesterday warned the UK that China would take steps to prevent recognition of British passports (overseas) as valid travel documents, and effectively banned Hong Kong citizens from leaving the country and moving to the UK.
"Since the UK has breached the promise and commitment to BNO, we need to take other measures not to recognize the BNO as a valid travel document," he said in a press conference on Thursday.
He insisted "China is not threatening anyone," but "we are only letting you know the consequences."
Xiaoming said, "China wants to be a friend of the UK and a British partner, but if you don't want to be a partner and our friend and want to treat China as an enemy power, you pay the price.
"We have a thousand reasons to make this relationship successful, and not one reason to make it fail."
The new law, which is being imposed by the Chinese Communist Party of Hong Kong and is also rejected by the European Union and the United States, is intended to curb protests against the government there.
Prime Minister Johnson said he violated the Sino-British joint declaration signed by the United Kingdom and China in 1984 by granting Hong Kong 50 "more freedoms" than the mainland, under which China had promised grant, effectively ended years after returning to Chinese control in 1997.
The British government has appreciated By February there were around 350,000 British passport holders (overseas) and 2.9 million people who could apply for one in Hong Kong.
The dispute over Hong Kong is just one of several sources of tension between the British government of Johnson and China.
Beijing was furious with the UK's decision to remove Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from its 5G networks by 2027. The Chinese State Department accused the UK of being "America's fraudsters".
London is also putting increasing pressure on China for its human rights abuses against Uighurs in Xinjiang province.
Ambassador Xiaoming was faced with leaked drone footage on live television last week, which apparently shows shaved and bound Uyghur Muslims who are blindfolded before being taken on trains.
Xiaoming, the BBC's Andrew Marr, did not contest the accuracy of the footage, which was released for the first time last year, but insisted that it could simply show a normal "transfer of prisoners" in the country.
At its press conference on Thursday, the Chinese ambassador to the UK attempted to invalidate claims that Beijing was oppressing Uyghurs and claimed that those sent to re-education camps were being radicalized.