UK suspends Hong Kong extradition and extends arms embargo on China

UK suspends Hong Kong extradition and extends arms embargo on China.

The UK will follow the example of the US, Canada and Australia in suspending extradition arrangements with Hong Kong

The UK has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong “immediately and indefinitely”, Dominic Raab has announced.

The Foreign Secretary also announced the UK would extend its arms embargo on China to Hong Kong.

It means British firms will no longer be allowed to export potentially lethal weapons, including those which might be used by the Chinese government for “internal repression” on the people of Hong Kong.

China has been subject to an EU-wide arms embargo since 1989, following the use of the People’s Liberation Army by the Chinese government to suppress demonstrations in Beijing.

Mr Raab insisted the UK wants “good co-operation” with China, but added: “We won’t accept any investment that compromises our domestic and national security”

The Foreign Secretary said China’s national security law was “a clear and serious violation of the UK-China joint declaration”.

And the UK has “grave concerns about the gross human rights abuses being perpetrated against the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang”, he said.

He said a “bespoke route” for people from Hong Kong to come to the UK will be ready by 2021, with more details to be confirmed this week.

The new measures are in response to China’s imposition of a tough new national security law on Hong Kong amid growing tensions with Beijing.

The UK will follow the example of the US, Canada and Australia, all of whom have suspend their extradition treaties with Hong Kong because of the impact of the security law on the territory.

It means someone in the UK who’s suspected of a crime in Hong Kong will no longer be handed over to Hong Kong’s authorities – and vice versa.

But the move risks further infuriating Beijing which was already smarting over the Government’s decision last week to exclude the tech giant Huawei from the UK’s 5G network – reversing a decision in January allowing it a limited role.

Raab announced the UK will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, “immediately and indefinitely”.

He told MPs: “We would 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.”

He said Articles 55 to 59 of the new national security law allow mainland China to assume jurisdiction over Hong Kong cases, and try them in mainland Chinese courts.

Mr Raab also announced the UK will extend to Hong Kong the arms embargo that’s already applied to mainland China since 1989.

(Image: via REUTERS)

He said: “This 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 that might be used for internal oppression, such as shackles, intercept equipment, firearms, and smoke grenades.”

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said Labour “strongly welcomes” both measures.

But she urged Mr Raab to consider extending so-called ‘Magnitsky’ financial sanctions to key Chinese officials.

Earlier, Boris Johnson signalled he would be “tough” with China as the Government prepared to change extradition arrangements with Hong Kong.

He confirmed there would be changes in extradition arrangements but promised a balanced approach to relations with Beijing rather than a “knee-jerk” anti-Chinese policy.

The Prime Minister said: “There is a balance here.

“I’m not going to be pushed into a position of becoming a knee-jerk Sinophobe on every issue, somebody who is automatically anti-China.

“But we do have serious concerns.”

Those included the treatment of the Uighur minority and alleged human rights abuses as well as the situation in Hong Kong.

But the Prime Minister said he would not “completely abandon our policy of engagement” with China.

“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.”

The PM promised a “calibrated response”

Mr Raab has accused the communist regime of committing “gross, egregious human rights abuses” against the country’s Uighur population in the north-western Xinjiang province.

The criticism was furthered by the chair of the defence select committee, Tobias Ellwood, who said Britain has “been duped over the last couple of decades” by China.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour programme: “I really want to see a reset of our entire foreign policy, bearing in mind that we are sliding towards a cold war, we can’t do this on our own, we need to work with our allies.

“We turned a blind eye to what was going on with the Uighur population, we turned a blind eye to the uneven trade situation whereby Chinese companies could operate quite liberally within the UK and elsewhere but our companies couldn’t operate within China and now I think it’s time to say enough is enough.”

The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said Beijing was still evaluating its response to the Huawei ruling.

There were reports at the weekend that the Chinese social media company TikTok had broken off talks to open a global headquarters in Britain.

The firm faces being banned in the US over security concerns but its head of public policy for Europe, Theo Bertram, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “completely false” to suggest the Chinese state had access to users’ information.

In a combative BBC interview on Sunday, Mr Liu denounced Britain for “dancing to the tune” of the US and accused Western countries of trying to foment a “new cold war” with China.

He also rejected the allegations of widespread abuses against the mainly-Muslim Uighur people, accusing “so-called Western intelligence” of making repeated “false allegations” against China.

He suggested video footage, said to be from Xinjiang, showing men, kneeling and blindfolded waiting to be led onto trains by police officers was “fake”.

Meanwhile, China is expected to be high on the agenda this week when US secretary of state Mike Pompeo travels to London for talks with senior British figures.

Mr Pompeo flies out on Monday ahead of meetings expected on Tuesday with Boris Johnson and Mr Raab, as well as MPs pressing the Government to take a harder line on China.

The US has warmly welcomed the Government’s U-turn on Huawei, which followed intensive lobby by the Trump administration.

Ministers said they had little choice after the intelligence services warned they could no longer be sure Huawei products were secure after the US imposed fresh sanctions on the company.


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