It was always the premise of the press that the main reason why BNO holders cannot get dual nationality was because the Chinese government would never allow it. This view has however changed this year with documents being made available from the 1980’s that Britain had no intention of allowing Hong Kong residents to become British nationals and that it was not the Chinese government after all.
Some have called the British government “disgraceful” when the newly declassified documents came to light that Britain placed pressure on the Portuguese government not to allow Macau residents citizenship as Portugal became part of the European Union. There had been 85,000 Macau residents and Britain did not want them in the EU as they also feared that there would be more. The knock on problem they viewed as :
“Moreover, Hong Kong [British Dependant Territories Citizens] may try to obtain Portuguese passports by whatever means in order to gain a right of entry to the United Kingdom.”
Compared to Macau where where Portuguese passports had been provided to anyone born before November 20, 1981, and Portuguese nationality could be passed on to their children.
“The declassified files highlight how low and disgraceful Britain was in treating Hongkongers. The reality had already demonstrated that what Britain had been worrying about did not happen – Macau residents had not flooded into Britain [despite being offered Portuguese nationality],”
Many in Hong Kong think that it would be easier to fight for dual nationality than trying to hold onto democracy in Hong Kong. Some feel that the Chinese also would not object as citizenship as it was only mentioned in the memorandum of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Only time will tell.