U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The United Kingdom announced Monday it will be suspending its extradition treaty and blocking arms sales with Hong Kong as a result of China's draconian new national security law.

Why it matters: The U.K. fears that the extradition treaty, which has been in place for more than 30 years, could be used to extradite individuals to Hong Kong and then have them sent to China, where they could be punished by the authoritarian central government.

  • The new national security law effectively outlaws global activism by making it illegal for anyone in the world to promote democratic reform for Hong Kong.
  • "We will protect our vital interests," U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. "We will stand up for our values, and we will hold China to its international obligations."

The big picture: The U.K.'s announcement comes as tensions between Western nations and China continue to escalate over Beijing's infringement on Hong Kong's autonomy, human rights violations against Uighur Muslims, handling of the coronavirus pandemic and more.

  • It also comes just days after the U.K. backtracked on plans to allow Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, to help build the U.K.'s 5G network due to national security concerns.
  • Hong Kong has extradition agreements with 19 other countries. The U.K. joins the U.S., Australia and Canada as countries that have suspended their extradition treaties in the wake of the new security law.

The state of play: The U.K. has had an arms embargo on China since 1989. Monday's move extends that embargo to Hong Kong, preventing the export of lethal weapons that could be used for internal repression.

  • The U.K. has already offered Hong Kong residents a path to British citizenship and residency after Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused China of a "serious breach" of the terms under which the U.K. returned the city in 1997.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The U.S.-China climate rupture

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Well that, as Ron Burgundy would say, escalated quickly. China's foreign ministry is accusing the Trump administration of "major retrogression" on climate and being an environmental "troublemaker."

Why it matters: China's unusual statement Monday widens the rupture between the world's largest carbon emitters as global climate efforts are flagging and the pandemic's effect on emissions is too small to be consequential in the long term.

Oct 20, 2020 - World

Right-wing media falsely ties Black Lives Matter movement to Beijing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Right-wing outlets and commentators have recently spread a false claim linking the Chinese Communist Party to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Why it matters: Such claims raise concerns that a real issue — that of Chinese government interference in U.S. politics — could be wrongly invoked along partisan lines to attack Americans engaging in legitimate activities.

Oct 20, 2020 - World

Sweden bans Chinese telecoms Huawei and ZTE from 5G networks


Photo: Visual China Group via Getty Images

Sweden banned Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE from its 5G mobile networks on Tuesday, citing China’s “extensive intelligence gathering and theft of technology.”

The big picture: Since the Trump administration announced its own ban last year, the U.S. government has increasingly pressured allies to follow its lead amid growing tensions between the West and China. In July, the United Kingdom became the first European country to announce plans to exclude Huawei from its networks by 2027.