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Hong Kong’s Treasury Titan Emphatically Declares BN(O) Passports Invalid for Pension Withdrawals Amid UK Minister’s Visit, Sparking Identity Crisis

Hong Kong’s Treasury Titan Emphatically Declares BN(O) Passports Invalid for Pension Withdrawals Amid UK Minister’s Visit, Sparking Identity Crisis –

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui Ching-yu, has addressed confusion surrounding the validity of British National (Overseas) passports as proof of identity. This clarification comes amid concerns from Hong Kong residents seeking to withdraw their pensions early upon emigrating to the United Kingdom.

BN(O) Passports Not Recognized as Valid ID in Hong Kong

During a meeting with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK’s Minister for the Indo-Pacific, Hui emphasized that BN(O) passports are not recognized as valid proof of identity in Hong Kong. “Secretary Hui stressed that the BN(O) passport is not recognised as any form of proof of identity in Hong Kong,” stated the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau.

This clarification directly impacts the ability of Hong Kong residents to use BN(O) passports or associated visas as evidence for early withdrawal of their Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) pensions on the grounds of permanent departure.

UK’s BN(O) Visa Pathway and Hong Kong’s Response

The UK announced the BN(O) visa migration pathway in July 2020, following Beijing’s imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong. In response, mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities declared in early 2021 that they no longer recognized BN(O) passports as valid travel documents or proof of identity.

The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority also stated that pension members could not use BN(O) documents or associated visas as evidence to apply for early withdrawal of their MPF.

Concerns over Fabricated Evidence and Arrests

These changes reportedly prompted some Hong Kong residents to fabricate evidence of employment and residence on the mainland to facilitate early pension withdrawals. As a result, Hong Kong authorities later arrested several insurance agents in connection with the case.

National Security Law and Business Environment

During the meeting, Hui touted Hong Kong’s Safeguarding National Security Ordinance as “conducive” to creating a stable and prosperous business environment. He stated that the law “legally protects human rights and freedoms that are enjoyed and applied to [Hong Kong] under the Basic Law and international covenants, allowing Hong Kong to attract more businesses and investments in a safer and more stable environment.”

Cooperation between Hong Kong and the UK

The two officials also discussed opportunities for cooperation between Hong Kong and the UK in finance and business. Hui expressed a desire to “deepen cooperation between Hong Kong and British enterprises and investors in these areas, opening up greater opportunities for both markets.”

UK’s Stance on Hong Kong’s Rights and Freedoms

In a statement, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office said Trevelyan had stressed the country’s historic ties to Hong Kong and its “support for rights and freedoms set out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

The British minister raised concerns over the deterioration of rights and freedoms brought on by the 2020 national security law, the prosecution of media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, and the recent passage of the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance.

“The UK government’s position on the erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong is clear,” said Dr. Steve Tsang, Director of the SOAS China Institute. “They view it as a violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and a breach of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle.”

Trevelyan’s Visit and Wider Discussions

Trevelyan’s visit marks the first by a British official since Hong Kong enacted the domestic national security law on March 23. During her trip, she also met with Deng Li, China’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss opportunities for greater cooperation between the two countries in areas such as artificial intelligence safety, trade, development, and climate change.

The British minister additionally called for China to lift sanctions against several UK politicians and other citizens.

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