By Tom Kingsbury
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab announced in a statement to Parliament on July 20 that the UK will cease its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
Following the lead of the United States and a host of other countries, the UK condemned the recent national security law introduced in Hong Kong.
Raab also announced an arms embargo in Hong Kong, which was already in place in China. The embargo includes equipment which may be used against citizens for “internal repression”, such as shackles and smoke grenades.
The Government also offered enhanced residency rights to Hong Kong citizens eligible for British National Overseas status, as part of its response. This response follows the recent banning of Huawei from the UK’s 5G mobile network.
What is the extradition treaty of Hong Kong?
The extradition treaty allows the UK to request that Hong Kong send over an individual suspected of a crime in the UK, although the treaty allows Hong Kong to request the same liberty of the UK. This is of significance as extradition prevents people from travelling to a different country to escape punishment.
Hong Kong citizens may now be able to travel to the UK to escape persecution under the new national security law. Claudia Mo, a member of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, has said the law aims to “stun Hong Kong into nothingness”.
The UK will not be the first country to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong following the imposition of the national security law.
Canada and Australia have already ended their own extradition agreements, with New Zealand also reviewing theirs. Foreign Minister Winston Peters has stated New Zealand was “deeply concerned” by the law.
How is China involved?
Hong Kong has been Chinese territory since 1997, under the Sino-British declaration. The declaration’s ‘one country, two systems’ principle established a high level of autonomy for Hong Kong.
China has stated, however, that the declaration is simply a historical document and is now “of no practical significance”.
The UK appears to be taking a stronger stance with China after Dominic Raab pressed China on its human rights record. He called the national security law a “serious violation” of China’s international obligations and accused China of “gross, egregious human rights abuses” in its treatment of its Uighur population.
It is believed the Chinese Government is persecuting the Uighur people, with many being sent to “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, though Chinese officials deny such claims.
Despite this, the UK did not include any Chinese officials in its recent sanctions of alleged human rights abuses.
It seems likely that Sino-British relations will continue to slide, as the UK begins to more forcefully oppose China’s human rights controversies.twitter Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics