EU to restrict exports of surveillance equipment to HK over security law

BRUSSELS: The European Union will restrict exports to Hong Kong of equipment that could be used for surveillance and repression after Beijing imposed a controversial new security law, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

The bloc has expressed deep concerned over the new law, which critics say will severely curb Hong Kong’s long-standing autonomy and relative freedom.

But the EU has struggled to agree to a united response to China, with member states deeply divided over whether to stand up to Beijing — a hugely important trading partner — or to try to cooperate with it.

France and Germany proposed the restriction on so-called “dual-use” technology at a meeting of foreign ministers earlier this month and it will be formally signed off on Tuesday.

Along with the export restriction, the EU will also bring in measures to support the population of the former British colony by making it easier for them to travel to Europe through the granting of visas, scholarships and academic exchanges, diplomats said.

After presenting the plan, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that, with the new security law in place, “It makes sense to treat Hong Kong no differently from mainland China” when it comes to the export of equipment that can be used for repression.

Beijing on Tuesday announced the suspension of extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain, following similar moves by those countries over the new law.

Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler Britain suspended its extradition treaty last week saying the security law had “significantly changed key assumptions” including a provision to try certain cases in mainland China.

Beijing insists the security law is needed to restore stability in the financial hub after prolonged political unrest.