British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Monday said that the UK will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong “immediately and indefinitely” amid rising tensions between London and Beijing.
Announcing the move in the Commons, the foreign secretary said the UK “wants a positive relationship” with China, the BBC reported.
Mr Raab said that the “imposition” of the new national security law in Hong Kong by Beijing was a “serious violation” of the country’s international obligations.
Labour said it would support changes to the law, calling it a “step in the right direction”, the report said.
According to BBC reports, the Foreign Secretary also confirmed government would extend its arms embargo – which has been in place with China since 1989 – to Hong Kong, stopping the UK exporting equipment, such as firearms, smoke grenades and shackles to the region.
On Sunday, the Foreign Secretary hinted that he was preparing further measures as he accused China of committing acegross, egregious human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang province.
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Raab said: “I’m going to go to the House of Commons tomorrow to make a further statement on the work we’ve been doing with our partners in government. I’ve said that we’d review a whole range of other considerations.
“One of the things that we reviewed is our extradition arrangements and I will be updating the house on the conclusion of that review, along with other things that we’ve been looking at, tomorrow.”
The development comes after China imposed a new national security law in Hong Kong, which the UK government believes gives Chinese authorities sweeping powers to crack down on dissent, and a new level of control over the semi-autonomous territory.
London and Beijing have been at loggerheads since the imposition of the new law.
The UK government recently shut down Chinese tech giant Huawei from the country’s 5G network, in a major U-turn just six months after approving its involvement.
Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said Beijing was still considering its response but warned London not to get drawn into a “tit-for-tat” confrontation.
Raab played down suggestions that the UK would impose sanctions on Chinese officials over alleged abuses in Xinjiang, like the US.
He insisted that the UK wanted a “positive relationship” with China, working with it on issues such as climate change as well as trade and investment.
However, the government has said that Beijing’s imposition of the new security law in Hong Kong constituted a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984 and aimed at smoothing the transition when the territory was handed back to China in 1997.