LONDON - Britain announced Monday that it is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to the new national security law imposed on the city by China.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made the announcement during a speech in Parliament, adding the government is extending a ban on weapons sales to mainland China to the financial hub.
Raab expressed concerns that anyone convicted under a new security law could be extradited to the mainland for prosecution. He said Britain will not consider reactivating the extradition treaty with Hong Kong “unless and until there are clear and robust safeguards which are able to prevent extradition from the UK being misused.”
Shortly after Raab’s announcement, the spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in London, accused the British government of interfering in China’s internal affairs, and vowed that it will “bear the consequences if it insists on going down the wrong road.”
Under the new national security law, Hong Kongers could face life in prison if believed to be engaging in terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces.
The new law was a response to the massive and often violent pro-democracy demonstrations that engulfed the financial hub in the latter half of last year.
But Britain says the law violates the terms of the 1997 agreement that switched control of Hong Kong from London to Beijing, which gave the city a high degree of self-autonomy for 50 years, including an independent judiciary.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered residency for up to 3 million Hong Kongers eligible for British citizenship under the 1997 agreement in response to the new law.
Hong Kong is the latest flashpoint between China and London. Prime Minister Johnson’s government last week reversed a decision to allow Chinese-based tech giant Huawei to help develop Britain’s new 5G high-speed wireless network.