The Chinese foreign ministry threatened to end its recognition of British National Overseas (BNO) passports held by residents of Hong Kong in response to the former colonial power's policy of opening up increased pathways to UK citizenship.
A spokesman echoed China's position Thursday, saying the move by the UK was an act of interference in its internal affairs.
“As the English side is the first to violate the promise, China will consider not recognising BNO passports as a valid travel document, and reserves the right to take further measures", Wang Wenbin told a news briefing.
However, China already does not recognise BNO certificates as a valid travel document. Instead, residents of Hong Kong - which was handed back to China in 1997 - are required to apply for travel permits when traveling to the mainland.
London has introduced a policy that would allow nearly three million Hong Kong residents to live in Britain as citizens in response to a new security law from Beijing that opposition groups claim violates the 1 country, 2 systems arrangement.
The Chinese government has stressed that the new law is in compliance with the 1997 Basic Law, which allows for the introduction of legislation that outlaws foreign meddling.
“The Chinese side urges the British side to recognise the reality that Hong Kong has returned to China, to look at the Hong Kong national security law objectively and immediately correct its mistakes”, China’s embassy in London said on Thursday.
The move comes amid a souring relationship between Britain and China, which has seen Westminster go back on its agreement to permit Chinese tech giant Huawei to help build its 5G network.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab announced on Monday that the UK would be suspending its extradition arrangements with Hong Kong "immediately and indefinitely".
"The specific measures I have announced today are a reasonable and proportionate response to China's failure to live up to those international obligations with respect to Hong Kong".@DominicRaab announces new measures in response to China’s new National Security Law pic.twitter.com/WtTM80KHqD— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) July 20, 2020
Britain also agreed this month to send its aircraft carrier the HMS Queen Elizabeth to join US warships in the Pacific to partake in military exercises, which was met with fury from the Chinese government.
Hong Kong was torn away from China by the British at the end of the First Opium War in 1842 and later obtained a 99-year lease in 1898, which would grant the territories back upon its expiration.