China’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, on Tuesday accused Britain of blatantly interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs by suspending an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, The Guardian reported.
On Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that the treaty would be suspended immediately, after China’s decision to enact a new national security law for Hong Kong. He also said an arms embargo would be extended to Hong Kong. “We will not consider reactivating those arrangements, unless and until there are clear and robust safeguards, which are able to prevent extradition from the UK being misused under the new national security legislation,” Raab told Parliament.
Liu on Tuesday accused Britain of violating the basic norms of international relations. “China has never interfered in UK’s internal affairs,” he added. “The UK should do the same to China. Otherwise it must bear the consequences.”
A spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in London alleged that the UK had “repeatedly made wrong remarks” about the new security law. “Now the UK side has gone even further down the wrong road in disregard of China’s solemn position and repeated representations,” the spokesperson added. “The Chinese government remains unwavering in its resolve to implement the national security law for Hong Kong...to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interest, and to oppose external interference. China will firmly fight back at any move that interferes in its internal affairs.”
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that UK will ban China’s Huawei Technologies from its 5G network by ordering telecommunications companies to remove its equipment by 2027. Australia and Canada also suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong earlier this month.
United States President Donald Trump has also ended preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.
New security law
Last month, China’s parliament passed a national security legislation for Hong Kong that would override local laws and give sweeping powers to security agencies. The unprecedented law is aimed at curbing protests – which rocked Hong Kong last year – and prohibiting subversion, separatism, “acts of foreign interference”, and terrorism. These charges are often used in the Chinese mainland to stifle dissidents and political opponents. The new law will also allow China’s security personnel to operate in Hong Kong.
Under the new law, certain political views and symbols, including those showing support for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet independence, are now illegal.
The new legislation came after people in Hong Kong held anti-Beijing protests for months from June 2019. Officials in Hong Kong and Beijing have said the law is vital to plug gaps in national security exposed by the protests. Critics say China’s law ends the freedoms that were guaranteed for 50 years under the “one country, two systems” agreement when British rule ended in 1997.