Britain’s government suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong on Monday and blocked arms sales to the former British territory, after China imposed a tough new national security law.
As tensions grow with Beijing, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had concerns about the new law and about alleged human rights abuses in China in particularly in regard to the treatment of the Uighur minority. He described the measures being taken Monday as “reasonable and proportionate.”
“We will protect our vital interests,” Raab said. “We will stand up for our values and we will hold China to its international obligations.
Raab followed the example of the United States, Australia and Canada by suspending extradition arrangements with the territory.
The arms embargo extends a measure in place for China since 1989. It means that Britain will allow no exports of potentially lethal weapons, their components or ammunition as well as equipment that might be used for internal repression such as shackles, firearms and smoke grenades.
The review of the extradition measures comes only days after Britain backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a role in the U.K.’s new high-speed mobile phone network amid security concerns fueled by rising tensions between Beijing and Western powers.
Johnson’s government has already criticized China’s decision to impose a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong. The U.K. has accused the Beijing government of a serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration under which the U.K. returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and announced it would open a special route to citizenship for up to 3 million eligible residents of the community.
Beijing has objected to the move. China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, recently described the offer as “gross interference” in Chinese affairs.
Liu told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that Britain was “dancing to the tune” of the U.S. and rejected the allegations of human rights abuses against the mainly-Muslim Uighur people.
He accused Western countries of trying to foment trouble with China.
“People say China (is) becoming very aggressive. That’s totally wrong,” he told the BBC “China has not changed. It’s Western countries, headed by United States — they started this so-called new Cold War on China.”
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