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A person holds up a British National (Overseas) passport in Hong Kong. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

China will no longer recognize the British National Overseas passport as a valid travel document or proof of identity, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Friday.

Why it matters: The announcement comes amid heightened tensions with the United Kingdom over its plan to offer potentially millions of Hong Kong residents a path to residency, and eventual citizenship.

Driving the news: Britain is set to begin accepting applications from Hong Kong residents for a special BNO visa late Sunday.

  • While the BNO passport has been in use for decades, pressure has been building for the U.K. to expand the rights of its holders, especially after Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the former British colony last year.
  • Some 5.4 million Hong Kong residents could be eligible for the BNO visa, per AP.

What they're saying: “The British side’s attempt to turn a large number of Hong Kong people into second-class British citizens has completely changed the nature of the two sides’ original understanding of BNO,” Zhao told a news briefing Friday.

  • “This move seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty, grossly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, and seriously violates international law and the basic norms of international relations,” he said, adding that China will stop recognizing the passports beginning Sunday.

Between the lines: "Many Hong Kongers carry multiple passports and it is unclear what if anything the Chinese government could do to prevent people entering the U.K. through the BNO visa plan," AP notes.

  • "As a further protection of personal privacy, a cellphone app will allow applicants to download their biometric information without having to been seen visiting the British visa office," the news agency added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement Friday, “I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BN(O)s to live, work and make their home in our country,” per Reuters.

  • “In doing so we have honored our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy – values both the UK and Hong Kong hold dear.”

Go deeper

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage during Shabbat services for around 11 hours in Colleyville, Texas.