LONDON • Britain yesterday said it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong as it escalated a dispute with China over the introduction of a national security law for the former British colony.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Parliament the treaty would be suspended immediately and that an arms embargo would be extended to Hong Kong.
“The imposition of this new security legislation has significantly changed key assumptions underpinning our extradition treaty arrangements with Hong Kong,” Mr Raab told lawmakers yesterday.
“We will not consider reactivating those arrangements, unless and until there are clear and robust safeguards, which are able to prevent extradition from the UK being misused under the new national security legislation.”
The ban is another nail in the coffin of what then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015 cast as a “golden era” of ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy.
London has been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and the perception that China did not tell the whole truth about the coronavirus outbreak.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Huawei Technologies equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by the end of 2027.
China has accused Britain of pandering to the United States.
Prior to Mr Raab’s announcement, China had urged Britain to avoid taking further steps down the wrong path. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin yesterday warned that Beijing would react resolutely to actions in Hong Kong that interfere with China’s internal affairs.
China’s ambassador to Britain also issued a similar warning on Sunday.
“If the UK government goes that far to impose sanctions on any individual in China, China will certainly make a resolute response to it,” Mr Liu Xiaoming told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
You’ve seen what happens in the United States – they sanction Chinese officials, we sanction their senators, their officials. I do not want to see this tit-for-tat happen in… China-UK relations.
MR LIU XIAOMING, China’s ambassador to Britain, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
“You’ve seen what happens in the United States – they sanction Chinese officials, we sanction their senators, their officials. I do not want to see this tit-for-tat happen in… China-UK relations.”
Britain says the security law breaches agreements made before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to Chinese rule, and that China is crushing freedoms that have helped make the city one of the world’s biggest financial hubs.
Hong Kong and Beijing officials have said the law is vital to plug holes in national security defences exposed by recent protests.
China has repeatedly told Western powers to stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.
Australia and Canada suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong earlier this month.