Issued on: 20/07/2020 – 17:38
Britain’s government suspended its extradition arrangements with Hong Kong on Monday after China imposed a tough new national security law.
Confirming the widely expected move, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told parliament the government had “immediately and indefinitely” suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to China‘s introduction of a controversial new security law in the former British colony.
As tensions between London and Beijing mount, Raab said he had concerns about the new security law and about alleged human rights abuses in China, particularly Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur minority.
“We will protect our vital interests,” Raab said. “We will stand up for our values and we will hold to China to its international obligations.”
Raab also said the UK would extend its arms embargo on “potentially lethal weapons” to the Asian financial hub.
London has been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and the perception that Beijing did not tell the whole truth over the coronavirus outbreak.
Australia and Canada suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong earlier this month.
The move came days after Britain backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a role in the UK’s new high-speed mobile phone network amid security concerns fuelled by rising tensions between Beijing and Western powers.
‘Dancing to the tune’ of the US, slams China
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has already criticised China’s decision to impose a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong. The UK has accused the Beijing government of breaching the Sino-British Joint Declaration under which Britain returned control of Hong Kong to China and announced it would open a special route to citizenship for up to 3 million eligible residents of the community.
Beijing has objected to the move. China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, recently described the offer as “gross interference” in Chinese affairs.
Liu told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that Britain was “dancing to the tune” of the US and rejected the allegations of human rights abuses against the mainly-Muslim Uighur people.
He accused Western countries of trying to foment trouble with China.
“People say China (is) becoming very aggressive. That’s totally wrong,” he told the BBC “China has not changed. It’s Western countries, headed by United States – they started this so-called new Cold War on China.”
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)