PARIS (AFP) – France on Monday (Aug 3) said it was halting ratification of an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, after Beijing introduced a controversial national security law in the former British colony.
“In light 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,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
France is the latest to join a string of Western powers – including New Zealand, Canada, Britain, Australia and Germany – that have suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong since the security law was introduced on June 30.
Earlier on Monday, China suspended Hong Kong’s extradition treaty with New Zealand amid the row with Western nations protesting against the security law that Beijing imposed on the city.
China has already hit back by suspending Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Britain and Australia.
Critics say the security law will erode civil liberties and human rights enjoyed by residents in Hong Kong, which Britain returned to China in 1997.
Beijing imposed the security law – which carries punishment of life imprisonment – against secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Beijing and the Hong Kong government have reassured people that the law affects only an extremely small number of people and will not undermine the city’s freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” principle that has been in place since 1997.
They argued that the law is vital to restore order and prosperity after over half a year of often violent anti-government protests last year.