UK expected to suspend Hong Kong extradition treaty

UK foreign secretary expected to announce suspension of extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to national security law.

The United Kingdom is expected to join the United States, Australia and Canada in suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong following China's imposition of a national security law on the territory [Dale de la Rey/AFP]

The United Kingdom is expected to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong on Monday, in a further escalation of worsening ties with China over Beijing’s decision to impose a national security law on the territory, British newspapers reported.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will announce on Monday the suspension of the treaty in parliament, the Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers said, citing sources.

Raab is due to speak in parliament at 14:30 GMT.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said changes would be announced later in the day to reflect concerns over the security law, but did not specify what those changes would be.

“We’ve got to have a calibrated response and we’re going to be tough on some things, but also are going to continue to engage,” Johnson told reporters.

Earlier on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged Britain to “stop going further down the wrong path”.

China defends internment camps for Uighur Muslims

The United States, Australia, and Canada have already moved to suspend extradition treaties with the territory, while New Zealand is reviewing its options.

The UK has been dismayed by the crackdown in Hong Kong after a year of sometimes violent protests, and is also concerned about the treatment of ethnic Uighur people in China’s far western region of Xinjiang.

On Sunday, Raab accused Beijing of “gross, egregious human rights abuses” in its “deeply troubling” treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang.

The United Nations and rights groups say at least one million Uighurs have been detained in camps that China describes as vocational skills centres that are necessary to curb “extremism”.

Raab told the BBC that reports of mass detention and forced sterilisation required international attention. 

“We want a positive relationship [with China] but we cannot see behaviour like that and not call it out,” the foreign secretary said.  

End of ‘golden era’

The two countries’ differences over a host of issues are a far cry from the so-called “golden era” of ties once championed by former Prime Minister David Cameron.

Last week, Johnson ordered Huawei Technologies equipment to be removed completely from Britain’s 5G network by the end of 2027.

China has accused Britain of pandering to the US.

On Sunday, China’s ambassador to Britain warned of a tough response if London attempted to sanction any of its officials, as some have demanded.

“If UK government goes that far to impose sanctions on any individual in China, China will certainly make a resolute response to it,” 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.”

Raab told the same programme he would not be drawn on future additions to Britain’s sanctions list but he denied that Britain would be too weak to challenge China in such a way.

Britain says the new national security law breaches agreements made before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to Chinese rule, and that China is crushing the freedoms that were supposed to remain for at least 50 years.

Source: News Agencies