UK scraps extradition treaty with Hong Kong over China’s crackdown in territory

Dominic Raab also announces a ban on sales of ‘potentially lethal weapons’, extending an embargo in place with mainland China since 1989

UK scraps extradition treaty with Hong Kong over China's crackdown in territory

The UK has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to China’s draconian national security law in the territory.

Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, announced the move over fears that the arrangement – which has been in place for more than 30 years – would lead to dissidents being sent on to Beijing.

The “immediate and indefinite” suspension follows similar steps in the US, Canada and Australia, because of concerns about China’s crackdown in Hong Kong.

In a Commons statement, Mr Raab went further by announcing a ban on sales of “potentially lethal weapons” to Hong Kong, extending an embargo in place with mainland China since 1989.

The security law was “a clear and serious violation of the UK-China joint declaration and with it a violation of China’s freely assumed international obligations”, he told MPs.

The extradition ban would not be lifted without “clear and robust” guarantees that it would not be “misused under the national security legislation”.

“The UK is watching and the whole world is watching,” the foreign secretary said.

The announcement was welcomed by Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, but he urged Mr Raab to go further.

He questioned there being “no announcement on the abuse of the Uighur Muslim population in western China”, or on the position of British judges sitting on court of final appeal in Hong Kong.

“The application of Chinese law into a common law jurisdiction could make the position of those judges untenable,” Mr Tugendhat warned.

The underlining of the growing rift with China comes after lawyers and legal experts raised the alarm over the security law allowing Beijing’s security personnel to operate in Hong Kong with impunity.

Anyone who conspires with foreigners to provoke “hatred” of the Chinese government, or the authorities in Hong Kong, could have committed a criminal offence – with new severe penalties of up to life in prison.

London’s concern is that Beijing will try to claw back Hong Kong pro-democracy activists seeking refuge in Britain, if the extradition treaty remains in place.

On the arms ban, Mr Raab said: “The extension of this embargo will mean there will be no exports from the UK to Hong Kong of potentially lethal weapons, their components or ammunition.

“It will also mean a ban on the export of any equipment not already banned which might be used for internal repression such as shackles, intercept equipment, firearms and smoke grenades.”

Lisa Nandy, shadow foreign secretary, backed the package, saying: “This must mark the start of a more strategic approach to China based on an ethical approach to foreign policy and an end to the naivety of the ‘golden-era’ years.

“And if it does, he can be assured that he will have our full support on this side of the House.”

Earlier, Boris Johnson made clear that the UK would not “completely abandon our policy of engagement with China”.

“China is a giant factor of geopolitics It’s going to be a giant factor in our lives, the lives of our children and our grandchildren,” the prime minister said.

“You have got to have a calibrated response. And we are going to be tough on some things – but also going to continue to engage.”

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