Britain told Hong Kong on Friday that it had "no right" to order other countries not to accept a UK travel file for a popular youth performing scheme after the location confirmed it had made the demand to many other nations.
The row may be the latest diplomatic spat centering on the British National (Overseas) passport as China imposes a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong. The BNO passport can be a legacy of Hong Kong's handover to China by colonial Britain in 1997.
Until recently it allowed Hong Kongers born before 1997 greater travel privileges to the UK but no performing or settling rights. But after Beijing imposed a sweeping countrywide security rules on the location last year, Britain commenced offering a pathway to citizenship for BNO passport holders and their own families. In response, Hong Kong and China stated it would no more recognize the BNO passport as the best travel document.
Late Thursday, Hong Kong confirmed media reports that it had recently written to 14 consulates telling them never to allow young persons to use their BNO passports to apply for performing holiday visas in Europe, North America and elements of Asia.
"Hong Kong participants under the Working Getaway Scheme should be confined to holders of the HKSAR passport," a spokesperson of Hong Kong's Labour Department added in a statement.
That sparked anger in Britain, which said countries had the proper to create their own rules on which travel paperwork they accept for identification.
"The Hong Kong government does not have any authority to dictate which passports overseas governments recognize just as valid," a spokeswoman for the British Foreign Workplace said on Friday.