UK will ‘bear the consequences’ for Hong Kong decision, China warns

Ambassador to London calls extradition treaty suspension ‘blatant’ interference in Chinese affairs and a contravention of international law

China’s ambassador has accused the UK government of blatantly interfering in China’s internal affairs by suspending extradition with Hong Kong, and led a cavalcade of Beijing voices warning of consequences.

On Monday the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, announced his government would follow moves by Australia, Canada, and the US, and formally suspend its extradition agreement with Hong Kong in response to Beijing’s unilateral imposition of national security laws.

It came on the eve of a visit to London by US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to discuss China, 5G and a post-Brexit free trade deal with the prime minister, Boris Johnson. Pompeo arrived on Monday night and did not address the media.

The UK also extended a Chinese arms embargo established after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre to Hong Kong, and last week stripped Chinese telco Huawei from any future role in Britain’s 5G network.

China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, accused the country of having “blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs and contravened international law and the basic norms governing international relations”.

“China has never interfered in UK’s internal affairs. The UK should do the same to China. Otherwise it must bear the consequences,” he said.

A spokesman for the embassy said the UK had “repeatedly made wrong remarks” on the Hong Kong national security laws.

“Now the UK side has gone even further down the wrong road in disregard of China’s solemn position and repeated representations,” the spokesman said.

“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.”

Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a hawkish state mouthpiece, said China would “definitely” counter the UK sanctions but they were in insignificant fields and the Sino-British relations were not beyond repair.

“The UK has been increasingly controlled by the US and more reliant on Washington.”

Separately, the paper cited unnamed observers to warn the UK would “pay the price for its further moves against China”, and claimed the London-based bank HSBC may be the first target.

Previous declarations by the UK to provide assistance and relocation to Hong Kong people who wish to leave drew threats of “countermeasures” by Beijing.

In his speech Raab stressed the desire for continued cooperation with China, but said the actions were “a reasonable and proportionate response” to the new laws, which have been labeled broad, ill defined, and draconian, targeting basic freedoms of expression and political dissent in the semi-autonomous city.

China has been accused of breaching the Sino-British joint declaration, which guaranteed 50 years of autonomy to Hong Kong after Britain relinquished control in 1997.

Neither the diplomatic entreaties nor harsh sanctions by countries including the UK, the US, and Australia in response to the laws have shifted China’s increasingly aggressive policies on Hong Kong, the South China Sea, or its treatment of Uighur minority groups.


Helen Davidson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
China rebuffs criticism of decision to bar British activist from Hong Kong
Beijing unshakably opposed to foreign interference, says foreign ministry after Benedict Rogers turned away at border

Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong and Tom Phillips in Beijing

12, Oct, 2017 @9:11 AM

Article image
Mike Pompeo renews attack on HSBC over Hong Kong and China
US secretary of state says China bullying UK and claims accounts of pro-democracy customers are being closed

Mark Sweney

26, Aug, 2020 @6:24 PM

Article image
Exiled Hong Kong legislator calls for action after HSBC bank accounts frozen
Ted Hui says move by UK’s biggest bank is act of ‘oppression’ as eight more democracy activists are arrested

Helen Davidson in Taipei

07, Dec, 2020 @2:45 PM

Article image
HSBC urged to unfreeze accounts of Hong Kong activist
International politicians say the bank, already under fire for backing China’s security law, could ‘gravely tarnish’ its reputation

Kalyeena Makortoff

08, Feb, 2021 @2:58 PM

Article image
Labour takes British-based banks to task over China's Hong Kong policies
HSBC and Standard Chartered’s support for security law challenged by Lisa Nandy and Anneliese Dodds

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

05, Jun, 2020 @5:26 PM

Article image
'Protecting rioters': China warns Apple over app that tracks Hong Kong police
State media says ‘poisonous’ app made Apple an accomplice in the Hong Kong protests

Guardian reporter in Hong Kong

09, Oct, 2019 @5:47 AM

Article image
How China changed Hong Kong: views from the city
As the 20th anniversary of the handover from the UK to China is marked, the Guardian talks to residents and officials about the shifts since 1997

Benjamin Haas

28, Jun, 2017 @4:00 AM

Article image
How HSBC got caught in a geopolitical storm over Hong Kong security law
Bank’s future remains uncertain as it finds itself under pressure from Beijing and Washington

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

30, Sep, 2020 @4:00 AM

Article image
China says Hong Kong violence 'totally intolerable'
UK warns China of serious consequences if it breaches agreement on freedoms in city

Guardian reporter in Hong Kong

02, Jul, 2019 @5:32 PM

Article image
Employee at UK's consulate in Hong Kong detained in China
Detention comes amid more than two months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

Lily Kuo in Hong Kong

20, Aug, 2019 @6:39 AM