China says it will no longer recognise the British National Overseas passport as a valid travel document or form of identification amid a bitter feud with London over a plan to allow millions of Hong Kong residents a route to residency and eventual citizenship.

The announcement by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday throws up new uncertainty around the plan just hours after the UK said it would begin taking applications for what are called BNO visas beginning late Sunday.

Under the plan, as many as 5.4 million Hong Kong residents could be eligible to live and work in the UK for five years then apply for citizenship. Demand soared after Beijing last year imposed a sweeping new national security law on the former British colony following months of pro-democracy protests.

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