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Raab suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty and extends arms embargo

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab set out the latest UK responses to Beijing’s national security law.


Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons about relations with China (House of Commons/PA)

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons about relations with China (House of Commons/PA)

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons about relations with China (House of Commons/PA)

UK has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and slapped an arms embargo on the territory in response to China’s national security law.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the measures were a “reasonable and proportionate” response to the law imposed by Beijing.

He told MPs the extradition treaty was being suspended “immediately and indefinitely” because of concerns the security legislation could allow cases to be transferred to mainland China.

An arms embargo with mainland China has been in place since 1989 and that will now be extended to Hong Kong because of the extra powers Beijing now has for the internal security of the territory.

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.”

Setting out the reasons behind the extradition changes, the Foreign Secretary said the national security law had “significantly changed key assumptions” about the operation of the system.

The law gives mainland Chinese authorities “the ability to assume jurisdiction over certain cases and to try those cases in mainland Chinese courts”.

Mr Raab’s actions came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised a “tough” but “calibrated” response to Beijing.

The UK had already announced that holders of British National (Overseas) passports in Hong Kong will be given extended rights to come to the UK and be put on a path to citizenship.

Mr Raab said Home Secretary Priti Patel would set out further details this week.

The Foreign Secretary also told MPs that the Government has “grave concerns” about the “gross human rights abuses” against the minority Uighurs taking place in China’s Xinjiang region.

Earlier, the Prime Minister had promised to strike a balance in his approach to Beijing, resisting pressure from China hawks to take a hardline stance.

“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.”

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy suggested that the Government could take steps to bar Communist Party of China (CCP) officials from the UK and called for a “new era” in terms of the UK’s relationship with China.

The latest moves risk further infuriating Beijing, which was already smarting over the Government’s decision last week to exclude Chinese tech giant Huawei from the UK’s 5G network – reversing a decision in January allowing it a limited role.

The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming criticised the Government’s approach.

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 holds talks with senior British figures on Tuesday – including Mr Raab and Mr Johnson but also Tories pressing for a tougher approach to Beijing.