Britain suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says he will stop riot control equipment from being exported to the city

FILE - In this Wednesday April 22, 2020 file photo, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves 10 Downing Street, London. Britain’s foreign secretary hinted Sunday, July 19 he may move to suspend the U.K.’s extradition arrangements with Hong Kong, and accused Beijing of “gross and egregious” human rights abuses against its Uighur population in China’s western province of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
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Britain suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extended an arms embargo on China over a security law imposed on the former British colony.

The measures would remain in place until there were “clear, robust safeguards which are able to prevent extraditions from the UK being misused under the new national security legislation", said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

The move is likely to further strain relations between the UK and China after a string of trade, security and diplomatic disputes.

Last week Britain announced an about-turn in its plans for a new 5G network and said it would ban Chinese tech company Huawei from the project because of national security concerns.

The decision was made after pressure from the United States.

The Hong Kong security law created new offences with severe penalties and undermined a 1984 declaration that ensured political and economic protections in Hong Kong before it was returned to China in 1997, according to the UK and its allies.

Britain said it was drawing up amended immigration plans that would allow up to three million people from Hong Kong to live and work freely in the UK, providing a route to citizenship.

On Monday Mr Raab also told British MPs that the export of riot control equipment would be halted as part of an extended arms embargo against China that had been in place since 1989.

“There will be no exports from the UK to Hong Kong, of potentially lethal weapons, their components or ammunition,” he said.

“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.”

He said the training of Hong Kong police officers by the UK would be under “constant review” after months of clashes on the city's streets.

The decision to halt extradition was taken because of events in Hong Kong but anger in the UK parliament was connected to the treatment of the Uighur minority in China's Xinjiang province and reports of forced sterilisation and wider abuses.

Mr Raab accused Beijing of “a gross violation of human rights” in its treatment of the Muslim group but said the UK wanted good relations with China, highlighting the economic difficulties that would be created if the rift deepened.

Mr Raab said China was a major investor in green power projects and nuclear power generation in the UK.

Thousands of Chinese students travel to the UK for higher education giving a boost to Britain's economy but that is threatened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the increased tensions.

China hinted it would retaliate against British businesses.

The UK's opposition Labour Party urged Mr Raab to go further and impose sanctions on senior Chinese officials.