China warned Britain on Thursday it could retaliate with “corresponding measures” for London’s decision to extend a broader path to citizenship for the residents of Hong Kong.
Britain’s offer came in response to a new security law that China unveiled for the former British-ruled territory this week.
The Chinese embassy in London stressed that “all Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong are Chinese nationals”.
The British offer covered almost three million Hong Kongers who either have a British National Overseas passports or are eligible to apply for one.
The embassy said these people were Chinese nationals as well.
“If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms governing international relations,” the embassy said in a statement.
“We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures,” it said without elaborating.
Beijing has never publically raised the possibility of offering Britons either Chinese citizenship or broader residence rights.
The Chinese statement concluded by urging London to reassess its decision and “refrain from interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any way”.