More Hong Kong residents in trouble abroad turn to British diplomats than mainland missions, figures show. In a post-handover diplomatic twist, residents travelling on British National (Overseas) passports can seek consular assistance from London's missions even though BNO passport holders are considered Chinese nationals. Beijing has ordered its envoys to offer help to any Hong Kong travellers with these documents in emergencies. About 100 SAR residents have sought help from Chinese consular posts since the handover for a variety of matters, according to statistics from the Foreign Ministry. However, about 200 BNO passport holders turned to London's offices after being arrested or detained during the whole of last year. British Consulate spokesman Bill Dickson said the number seeking help with less serious matters such as renewing passports or notarising documents was 'much, much larger'. Figures were unavailable. Consular assistance ranges from clerical services and helping travellers who have been robbed or need to return home quickly, to providing advice and contact with professionals for those accused of criminal offences, as well as monitoring their treatment. Mr Dickson said consular officials had encountered no problems in providing assistance to holders of full British passports in Hong Kong. Beijing has indicated it would refuse to allow SAR residents who received full British passports after the June 4 massacre to obtain help from British authorities. Former legislator Desmond Lee Yu-tai said the preference for British help was probably due to the larger number of Hong Kong residents travelling on BNO passports. Only 400,000 SAR passports have been issued since the handover, compared with the 3.5 million British travel documents in circulation. 'The numbers going to Chinese consular posts will increase as more people get SAR passports,' said Mr Lee, now honorary consul for Fiji.