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Relations with China: BNO Visa Scheme

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2022

5. What assessment he has made of the impact of the British national overseas visa scheme on diplomatic relations with China. (902107)

We warmly welcome all those who have taken up the BNO visa route. This route is about our relationship with Hong Kong and its people. The BNO visa scheme was introduced in response to China’s breaches of the Sino-British joint declaration, including its imposition of the national security law, which has been used to undermine rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.

I deeply commend the Government on implementing the impressive, tailor-made British national overseas visa and standing up for the Hongkongers in the face of growing repression from Beijing. British nationals overseas are Britons, and it is important that we defend them at home and abroad. In the light of the recent assault on a Hongkonger inside the Chinese consulate in Manchester and the increasing harassment of Hongkongers by the Chinese state all over the world, will my right hon. Friend commit to protecting the British Hongkongers?

We are steadfast in our support of the Hong Kong BNO community. Those who choose to live their lives in the UK should enjoy the same freedoms that are afforded to any nationality. As British nationals, BNO passport holders are entitled to consulate assistance from our diplomatic posts overseas.

For years, the Conservative Government have failed to act strategically on China. Most recently, the Foreign Secretary ducked responsibility by letting officials meet the Chinese embassy over the Hongkonger beaten in Manchester and gave no answers about the troubling reports alleging that Chinese police stations are operating in the UK. Our allies and partners around the world are taking major strategic steps on China. Last month, the US announced the CHIPS and Science Act 2022. Last week, the German Chancellor got Xi Jinping to publicly oppose the use of nuclear weapons. The UK has not even published a long-promised strategy. Do the Government still plan to publish a China strategy and, if so, by what date?

The UK is clear that China remains in an ongoing state of non-compliance with the Sino-British joint declaration. We have also been clear that the imposition of the national security law and the overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system have undermined the rights and freedoms promised to Hongkongers. We continue to work with our international partners to hold China to its obligations. We will continue to work across Government on the question of a China strategy.