Extradition review amid rising tensions with China over Hong Kong

Extradition review amid rising tensions with China over Hong Kong

Downing Street is reviewing its extradition agreement with Hong Kong as Beijing accused the UK of a "gross interference" in Chinese affairs after the imposition of a restrictive security law.

Amid increasing tensions, No 10 said on Monday that the agreement was being reconsidered with the former British colony in the wake of the controversial legislation.

The announcement came after Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming defended the law that clamps down on liberties as necessary to "prevent, suppress and punish collusion with a foreign country".

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Police crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong
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Police crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong
Police chase protesters during the annual handover march in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July. 1, 2020. Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997, and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. Hong Kong police said on Facebook they had arrested over 30 people on various charges, from unlawful assembly to the violation of a national security law on the first day of the law. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Riot police deploy flash bangs as they clear protesters from a road during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing's new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon. (Photo by DALE DE LA REY / AFP) (Photo by DALE DE LA REY/AFP via Getty Images)
A protester is detained by police during the annual handover march in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July. 1, 2020. Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997, and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. Hong Kong police said on Facebook they had arrested over 30 people on various charges, from unlawful assembly to the violation of a national security law on the first day of the law. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Police detain protesters after a protest in Causeway Bay before the annual handover march in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July. 1, 2020. Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997, and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. Hong Kong police said on Facebook they had arrested over 30 people on various charges, from unlawful assembly to the violation of a national security law on the first day of the law. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Police detain protesters during the annual handover march in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July. 1, 2020. Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997, and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. Hong Kong police said on Facebook they had arrested over 30 people on various charges, from unlawful assembly to the violation of a national security law on the first day of the law. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Supporters of Hong Kong protesters stage a rally calling for a boycott of the Disney-produced film "Mulan" outside Walt Disney Korea office in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, July 1, 2020. About a dozen protesters gathered to urge South Korean citizens to boycott film "Mulan" and criticize the Chinese government's Hong Kong national security law.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Police detain a protester after being sprayed pepper spray during a protest in Causeway Bay before the annual handover march in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997, and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Pro-democracy protesters shout slogans " Stop One Party Rolling" as they march toward the flag raising ceremony, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997, one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Riot police deploy flash bangs as they clear protesters from a road during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing's new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon. (Photo by DALE DE LA REY / AFP) (Photo by DALE DE LA REY/AFP via Getty Images)
A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing's new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon. (Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP) (Photo by ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP via Getty Images)
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And he accused Westminster of "political manipulation" for offering around three million Hongkongers the right to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship.

Boris Johnson pledged the move last week after deciding China had committed a "clear and serious breach" of the Sino-British Joint Declaration that aimed to smooth the transition when the territory was handed back to China in 1997.

At a virtual press conference, Mr Liu also accused some British politicians of portraying China as a "threat" or a "hostile country" when discussing Huawei's role in the 5G network.

"We want to be your friend, we want to be your partner, but if you want to make China a hostile country you have to bear the consequences," he said.

A short while later, Downing Street urged China not to interfere if British National (Overseas) nationals sought to come to the UK and said Britain is "also reviewing extradition arrangements with Hong Kong".

"We are currently assessing the national security law and its legal ramifications in terms of extradition with Hong Kong," the PM's official spokesman added.

"There are already extensive extradition safeguards in the UK.

"The courts are required to bar a person's extradition to any country if it would be incompatible with their human rights or if the request appears to be motivated by their political opinion."

The widely criticised security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong makes activities deemed subversive or secessionist punishable by imprisonment, and is seen as targeting anti-government demonstrators.

In response to its imposition, the Prime Minister said he would introduce a new route for people in Hong Kong with BNO status to apply for visas to live and work in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship.

Mr Liu said: "This move constitutes a gross interference in China's internal affairs."

But he declined to spell out how Beijing will retaliate after the nation said it reserves "the right to take corresponding measures".

Instead, he said "we have to wait and see" exactly how Britain moves forward.

"Our first response is we criticise the British move, we don't think they've honoured their commitment," he said.

"Secondly, we think it's an interference into China's internal affairs.

"I think this is a political manipulation against this national security law."

He argued the legislation was needed to safeguard Hong Kong from "external elements" amid sustained pro-independence protests in the city.

"Attempts to disrupt or obstruct the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong SAR (special administrative region) will be met with the strong opposition of 1.4 billion Chinese people," Mr Liu said.

"All these attempts are doomed to failure."

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