Dominic Raab will today announce the UK is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong as Britain’s row with China continues to escalate.
The Foreign Secretary is due to deliver a statement to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon when he will set out the Government’s latest response to Beijing imposing a controversial national security on the former British colony.
It is thought he will say extradition arrangements will be shelved rather than completely torn up, with the latter apparently being held back as a ‘final lever to pull’ should China fail to change its behaviour.
Mr Raab’s announcement will come on the same day that Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, is due to fly into the UK ahead of talks with the Foreign Secretary and Boris Johnson tomorrow.
However, while Mr Pompeo’s visit was initially viewed as a likely ‘victory lap’ over the UK’s decision to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from the 5G network, it has now been suggested he will hold the Prime Minister’s ‘feet to the fire’ and urge even tougher action against Beijing.
Meanwhile, Mr Pompeo is due to meet with a cross-party group of 20 MPs who are seen as ‘hawks’ on China before his meeting with the Foreign Secretary and PM in a move which will be seen by some as a snub to Number 10.
Dominic Raab is expected to today announce that the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong is going to be shelved
The move by the Foreign Secretary comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to fly into the UK for talks with Mr Raab which will be dominated by China
Mr Pompeo is also expected to meet with Boris Johnson amid suggestions he will urge the PM to further toughen the UK’s stance against Beijing
Relations between Britain and China have become increasingly strained in recent months with the two nations clashing over coronavirus, Huawei, Hong Kong and human rights abuses.
Mr Raab’s announcement today on extradition will further inflame tensions, with Beijing having already warned the UK faces retaliation over its Huawei U-turn.
Both Canada and Australia have suspended their extradition arrangements with Hong Kong and the US is considering taking the same action.
The moves come after China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong which criminalises secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces but also curtails rights to protest and freedom of speech.
The rules apply outside the borders of China and this has stoked fears Beijing could try to use the extradition mechanism to drag any overseas residents involved in pro-democracy activism back to Hong Kong. The UK does not have an extradition treaty with China.
Britain has already offered a route to UK citizenship for up to three million Hong Kongers with British National (Overseas) status in response to the law being put in place.
Mr Raab was asked yesterday if the UK is going to ‘tear up’ its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
He told the BBC: ‘So when I set out on the first of July the approach that we’re taking, BNOs, those but also other measures, I said we would conduct a review of our extradition arrangements, and also a range of other measures that we might wish to take.
‘I’ve now, with the Home Secretary and the rest of the government, concluded that review.
‘I will update the House of Commons on what further measures we’re taking.’
The expected shift on Hong Kong comes a week after the Government announced it is banning Huawei from the UK’s 5G network, with all of the firm’s technology to be stripped out by the end of 2027.
China is likely to dominate discussions during talks between Mr Pompeo, Mr Raab and Mr Johnson tomorrow.
The ‘hawk’ MPs Mr Pompeo is also due to meet with believe the US Secretary of State will urge Mr Raab and Mr Johnson to further strengthen the UK’s stance against China.
One source told The Telegraph: ‘The visit has been written up as a victory lap, but that is plainly wrong.
‘The Americans are not even remotely satisfied and the purpose of this trip is to hold the Prime Minister ‘s feet to the fire.’
China accused the UK of ‘dancing to America’s tune’ in the wake of the Huawei U-turn.
Tensions increased yesterday as Mr Raab accused Beijing of being responsible for ‘gross egregious human rights abuses’.
China’s Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, was confronted during a BBC interview with video footage of Uighur people being detained and forced onto a train in Xinjiang province.
Mr Liu dismissed claims of human rights abuses as ‘false accusations’ as he hit back at suggestions that the UK could impose sanctions on any Chinese government officials involved in any such action.
He said: ‘That is totally wrong. We never believe the unilateral section. We believe that the UN has the authority to you know impose sanctions, and if the UK government goes that far, goes that far to impose sanctions on any individuals in China, China will certainly make resolute response to it.
‘You have seen what happened between China and the United States. They sanctioned Chinese officials, we sanctioned their Senators, their officials.
‘I do not want to see this tit for tat that has happened in China, UK relations. I think UK should have its own independent foreign policy rather than dance to the tune of Americans, like what happened to Huawei.’