China ambassador has accused Downing Street of interfering in the country’s internal affairs after the UK suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Monday announced the immediate and indefinite suspension of the agreement after Beijing imposed national security legislation criminalising subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers in the city.

Hong Kong China flag
Photo: GovHK.

“The national security law does not provide legal or judicial safeguards in such cases, and I am also concerned about the potential reach of the extra-territorial provisions,” he said. “The government has decided to suspend the extradition treaty immediately and indefinitely.”

Raab expressed concerns about articles 55 to 59 of the new law giving China jurisdiction over some criminal cases which may be handled by mainland courts.

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“I should also tell the House [of Commons] that we would not consider re-activating those arrangements, unless, and until clear and robust safeguards which are able to prevent extradition from the UK being misused under the national security legislation.”

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy of the Labour Party said she welcomed the suspension as it offered protection to overseas Hongkongers and particularly young pro-democracy activists in the UK. She also urged Raab to discuss suspending similar treaties with other commonwealth countries.

In anticipation of Raab’s announcement hours before, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters that Beijing was prepared to retaliate: “The UK’s recent statements and actions relating to Hong Kong affairs… have brutally interfered with the internal affairs of China.”

“We urge the UK not to go down the wrong path and avoid further undermining Sino-British relations.”

China’s embassy spokesperson released another statement on Tuesday opposing the UK’s decision: “The UK side has gone even further down the wrong road in disregard of China’s solemn position and repeated representations,” it read.

“It once again contravened international law and the basic norms governing international relations and blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs in an attempt to disrupt the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong SAR and undermine the city’s prosperity and stability.”

Director of the UK-based NGO Hong Kong Watch, Johnny Patterson, welcomed the decision in a statement and urged other countries to prevent individuals from being transferred to Hong Kong under the security law.

Dominic Raab
Dominic Raab. File photo: Pippa Fowles/Number 10 Downing Street, via Flickr.

“We welcome the UK government joining the US, Canada, and Australia, in suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to the national security law,” Patterson wrote.

“And [we] hope other countries will support the joint-campaign by Hong Kong Watch and the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China to ensure that no individual is extradited to Hong Kong under this vague and draconian national security law.”

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.