Boris Johnson pledges to be 'tough' on China confirming extradition changes

20 July 2020, 11:36

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson has confirmed changes would be made to extradition arrangements with Hong Kong.

On a visit to a school in Kent, the Prime Minister said: "There is a balance here. I'm not going to be pushed into a position of becoming a knee-jerk Sinophobe on every issue, somebody who is automatically anti-China.

"But we do have serious concerns. We have concerns about the treatment of the Uighur minority obviously, about the human rights abuses.

"We obviously have concerns about what's happening in Hong Kong and you will be hearing a bit later on from the Foreign Secretary about how we are going to change our extradition arrangements to reflect our concerns about what's happening with the security law in Hong Kong."

The Prime Minister made the comments while visiting a school in Kent
The Prime Minister made the comments while visiting a school in Kent. Picture: PA

His comments come after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused China of "gross, egregious human rights abuses" against the country's Uighur Muslim population.

Mr Raab is set to address the Commons on Monday afternoon, setting out further measures which will be taken against China.

Boris Johnson promised to be "tough" with China in some areas but would not "completely abandon our policy of engagement" with Beijing.

"China is a giant factor of geopolitics, it's going to be a giant factor in our lives and in the lives of our children and grandchildren," he said.

"You have got to have a calibrated response and we are going to be tough on some things but also going to continue to engage."

The Prime Minister's words come after drone footage emerged showing police leading hundreds of blindfolded and shackled men from a train in what is believed to be a transfer of inmates in China's Xinjiang province.

The region in northwestern China is home to the Muslim Uighur minority, who make up about eight million of its 19-million population.

The footage purportedly shows dozens of Uyghur men — their heads freshly shaved —blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs during a mass transfer at a train station in the north-west region of China.

There has been escalating tensions between China and the UK with Britain set to suspend the extradition treaty with Hong Kong after China imposed a tough new national security law on the territory.