The UK has suspended an extradition treaty with Hong Kong following the imposition of controversial new security laws on the territory by China.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the “necessary and proportionate” measure in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday.
The UK will also extend to Hong Kong the arms embargo it has applied to mainland China since 1989, 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,” the foreign secretary told MPs.
“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.”
Extradition treaties are signed between countries to speed up the deportation of suspected criminals.
But after Beijing imposed the controversial new security law in Hong Kong, senior Tory MPs have called for it to be rescinded.
Suspending the treaty means British authorities can no longer ask Hong Kong to hand suspected criminals over to face justice, while Hong Kong officials cannot ask for individuals to be handed over to them by the UK.
Mr Raab told MPs the UK had suspended the extradition treaty “immediately and indefinitely”.
“We would not consider reactivating those arrangements unless and until there are clear and robust safeguards which would prevent extradition from the UK being misused under the new national security legislation,” he added.
The UK’s “Five Eyes” security partners, Canada and Australia, have already suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong after Beijing introduced the security legislation.
The US is expected to follow suit in the coming days.
There are fears the new Chinese law will undermine Hong Kong’s freedom and is aimed at quashing defiance against the mainland.
The imposition of the law has “significantly changed” the understanding on which the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong is based, Mr Raab told MPs.
He added he was particularly concerned about parts of the legislation that give mainland Chinese authorities the ability to assume jurisdiction over certain cases and to try those cases in mainland Chinese courts.
The UK’s suspension of the extradition treaty is set to further sour relations with China, as it comes after the government’s decision last week to block Huawei from Britain’s 5G networks.
The government had already offered a route to British citizenship for nearly three million people living in Hong Kong in its initial response to the security law.
Mr Raab told MPs that Home Secretary Priti Patel will set out further details of the “bespoke” immigration route before parliament’s summer recess begins on Wednesday.
Asked earlier on Monday about the possible suspension of extradition arrangements, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged Britain to “stop going further down the wrong path”.
At the weekend, Mr Raab had also accused China of committing “gross, egregious human rights abuses” against Uighur Muslims.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier on Monday there was a “balance” to be struck in the UK’s relationship with Beijing.
“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,” he said.
“But we do have serious concerns.”
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