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UK says China 'can't be trusted' over its treatment of Hong Kong

News Agencies | Updated on: 8 July 2020, 13:00 IST

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has questioned whether China can be trusted to live up to international obligations after its move to introduce a new security law for Hong Kong, which London says it contravenes the historical agreement handing over the territory to Beijing, CNN reported.

"China freely assumed international obligations to the United Kingdom... in relation to the way that it would treat Hong Kong and in particular, would respect the autonomy and freedoms," Raab said.

"It is a matter of trust and lots of countries around the world are asking this question -- does China live up to its international obligations? Because if they cannot be trusted to keep their word on Hong Kong, why would they be trusted to live up to their wider international responsibilities," he added.

Raab's comments come after China's ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming accused Britain of "gross interference" in China's internal affairs by commenting on the new security law in Hong Kong.

London has said it will provide a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands -- potentially millions -- of Hong Kongers, citing threat as a result of the security law which empowers the city police to search properties without a warrant in special circumstances, freeze assets, intercept communications and require internet service providers to remove information.

That law gained new teeth on Monday, as Hong Kong's government unveiled new "implementation rules" under the legislation, drastically expanding police powers to search and order potentially-illegal material online to be deleted for the purposes of "preventing, suppressing and imposing punishment for any acts and activities endangering national security."

The US has moved to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for the law and undermining freedoms in the city, something Raab said that the UK has not ruled out.

Speaking in the House of Commons after the passage of Magnitsky-style sanctions targeting overseas officials accused of human rights abuses and involvement crime, Raab was asked about targetting China under the new law.

He said, "I am not going to pre-empt or pre-judge further designations now. But we are already working on what the next wave might be."

Raab announced the new rules in the House of Commons on Monday, along with the details of the first wave of sanctions which includes 25 Russian nationals "involved in the mistreatment and death of auditor Sergei Magnitsky" and 20 Saudi nationals involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Raab said it is the first time there has been a "UK-only regime," adding it gives the country "the power to impose sanctions on those involved in the very worst human rights abuses right around the world".

"This extends beyond state officials to non-state actors as well. So if you are a kleptocrat or an organised criminal, you will not be able to launder your blood money in this country," he further said.

Also included in the first wave of sanctions are two "high-ranking Myanmar military generals involved in the systematic and brutal violence against the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities" and "two organisations involved in the forced labour, torture and murder that takes place in North Korea's gulags," a written statement from the Foreign Office said.


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First published: 8 July 2020, 13:00 IST