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France announced on Monday that it would not be ratifying its extradition treaty with Hong Kong following Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in the city.
“In view of the latest developments, France will not proceed as it stands with the ratification of the extradition agreement signed on May 4, 2017 between France and the Hong Kong Special Administrative region,” read a statement released by the French Foreign Ministry.
Criticizing the new law, the ministry called it a “change that compromises the inherited framework of the 1997 handover.” They also described it as a change that jeopardized the one country, two systems principle and the “related fundamental freedoms.”
“This law also directly affects our citizens and our businesses,” the statement added.
This move puts France alongside Germany in the growing list of European nations taking a stand against China over its recent actions in Hong Kong.
Last Friday, Germany announced it would be ending its extradition agreement with Hong Kong following the decision to delay legislative elections for a year.
“The Hong Kong government’s decision to disqualify a dozen opposition candidates for the election and postpone the elections to the legislature is another infringement on the rights of the citizens of Hong Kong,” said German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas.
“We have repeatedly made our expectation clear that China lives up to its legal responsibilities under international law,” Maas added, urging China to ensure that Hong Kong people had the right to free and fair elections.
The German announcement also comes after Hong Kong authorities issued arrest warrants for six pro-democracy activists who fled the city after the enactment of the national security law, one of who is currently in Germany.
As a whole, the European Union has generally avoided joining the United States – China’s biggest rival – in taking a hard-line approach against Beijing.
However, the EU is gradually taking further decisive action against China, such as announcing last week that it would be limiting the exports of sensitive goods to Hong Kong that could be used for “internal repression, interception of internal communications or cyber surveillance.”
The bloc has stopped short of imposing official sanctions on any individuals or entities.
China urges respect from EU
Responding to the EU’s hardening stance, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a news conference that “We urge the EU side to truly respect China’s position on upholding national security in Hong Kong, stop interfering in China’s Hong Kong affairs in any means, work in ways that serve Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and focus on maintaining the sound development of China-EU relations.”
Given the EU’s role as a stakeholder in Hong Kong businesses, Wang added that, “it should take concrete steps toward these goals instead of adopting measures that undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”
In an article published by Chinese state media outlet the Global Times, the EU sanctions on China over the Hong Kong issues have been described as a “symbolic gesture” by Sun Keqin, research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
The article went on to suggest that the EU sanctions were an effort to appeal to both Washington and Beijing on a political front as the measures will only have a “limited impact on Hong Kong."
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