UK suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty, extends China arms embargo to the city
The UK will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong with immediate effect and Britain’s arms embargo on China will be extended to the semi-autonomous city.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs Monday that the UK wanted to work with Beijing but the new security law imposed by China on Hong Kong had “significantly changed key assumptions” underpinning extradition arrangements.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier in the day that the UK was changing its arrangements with Hong Kong to reflect his government’s “serious concerns” about its new security law, but called for engagement with China.
Critics say the law, which wasn’t revealed to the public until after it was passed, marks an erosion of the former British colony’s precious civil and political freedoms; the Chinese and local governments argue it’s necessary to curb unrest and uphold mainland sovereignty.
“We obviously have concerns about what’s happening in Hong Kong and you will be hearing a bit later on from the Foreign Secretary about how we are going to change our extradition arrangements to reflect our concerns about what’s happening with the security law in Hong Kong,” Johnson said on the sidelines of a visit to a school in Kent, southeast England, on Monday.
Speaking specifically about China, the UK Prime Minister also said his government had “concerns about the treatment of the Uyghur minority obviously, about the human rights abuses,” promising a “tough” yet balanced approach towards the world’s second-largest economy, without abandoning the UK’s “policy of engagement.”
“China is a giant factor of geopolitics, it’s going to be a giant factor in our lives and in the lives of our children and grandchildren,” he 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.”
“There is a balance here,” Johnson added. “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.”