The UK has suspended an extradition treaty with Hong Kong following the imposition of controversial new security laws on the territory by China
Dominic Raab, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, announced the “necessary and proportionate” measure in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday.
This comes after the government has admitted that its contact tracing programme, that Boris Johnson pledged would be ‘world beating’, is unlawful in a legal letter which confirms that it has been breaching data protection laws since it has been running in May.
The UK government will also extend to Hong Kong the same arms embargo that has in place to mainland China by the UK 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 set up between countries in order to speed up the deportation of those suspected to be criminals.
Suspending the treaty means that British authorities will no longer be able to ask Hong Kong to hand over suspected criminals to face justice in the UK, while Hong Kong officials will no longer be permitted to ask for individuals to be handed over to them by the UK.
The Foreign Secretary told MPs that the UK had “immediately and indefinitely” suspended the extradition treaty.
He went on to say:
“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,”
The UK’s security partners within the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, Canada and Australia, have already suspended the extradition treaties between their countries and Hong Kong after Beijing imposed the security legislation on Hong Kong. The United States is believed to do the same in the next few days.
The fears from the “Five Eyes” partnership are that the new law imposed by China will undermine the freedom of Hong Kong’s and that the communist nation is aimed at crushing any defiance against mainland China.
The imposition of the security law has “significantly changed” the understanding of which the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong is based upon, Dominic Raab told Members of Parliament.
Raab added that he was particularly concerned about parts of the new legislation imposed on Hong Kong that would give mainland Chinese authorities the ability to assume jurisdiction over certain legal cases in Hong Kong and to try those cases in courts in the Chinese mainland.
This comes after the United Kingdom has secured early access to 90 million COVID-19 doses of two kinds of coronavirus vaccine through partnerships between the government and pharmaceutical companies.
Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister said earlier on Monday that there was a “balance” to be struck in regards to the UK’s relationship with China.
“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.”