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

Updated Jul 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

U.S. orders China's Houston consulate to close

China's Houston consulate. Photo: Mark Felix / AFP

The Trump administration told China to close its diplomatic consulate in Houston "in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information," State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus confirmed to Axios on Wednesday morning.

The latest: Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that President Trump directed the State Department to withdraw its consent for China to operate its consulate in Houston due to a litany of abuses in the bilateral relationship.

19 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Fear of voting

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to worry about in-person voting — with nearly two in three seeing it as a large or moderate risk to their health — according to this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.

Trump: Coronavirus is "under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.