U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab has hinted that he may suspend the U.K.’s extradition arrangements with Hong Kong over China’s moves against the city-state.
Raab has further accused Beijing of “gross and egregious” human rights abuses against its Uighur population in China’s western province of Xinjiang.
The comments were the latest signs of deepening tensions between the United Kingdom and China. Issues that have surfaced include China’s alleged treatment of its Uighur minority and a new, sweeping national security law the Mainland imposed on Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous territory that Britain handed over to China in 1997.
According to the Associated Press, the Chinese ambassador to Britain warned that China will deliver a “resolute response” to any move by Britain to sanction officials over the alleged rights abuses.
Raab said Sunday that Britain’s government has reviewed its extradition arrangements with Hong Kong, saying he will release a Statement by Monday.
Raab added that while Britain wants good relations with China, it could not stand by amid reports of forced sterilization and mass education camps targeting the Uighur population in Xinjiang.
“It is clear that there are gross, egregious human rights abuses going on. We are working with our international partners on this. It is deeply, deeply troubling,” he told the BBC.
Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador, denied there were concentration camps in Xinjiang during an interview with the BBC and insisted there are “no so-called restriction of the population.” When confronted with drone footage that appeared to show Uighurs being blindfolded and led onto trains, Liu claimed there are many “fake accusations” against China.
Beijing was ready to respond in kind should Britain impose sanctions on Chinese officials, Liu added.
“If the U.K. goes that far to impose sanctions on any individuals in China, China will certainly make a resolute response to it,” he said. “You have seen what happened between China (and) the United States … I do not want to see this tit-for-tat between China-U.S. happen in China-U.K. relations.”
Liu also said Britain “should have its own independent foreign policy, rather than dance to the tune of the Americans like what happened to Huawei.”