France has announced a decision to halt the ratification of an extradition treaty with Hong Kong. This follows the recent introduction by Beijing of a controversial security law in the former British colony.
"In light of the latest developments, France will not proceed . . . with the ratification of the extradition agreement signed on 4 May 2017 between France and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
China has reacted angrily to the French decision, saying Beijing is "firmly opposed" to the suspension of ratification by Paris.
The foreign ministry criticised the new security legislation, saying it called into question the principle of "one country, two systems" . . . and the fundamental freedoms that result from that principle
"This law also directly affects our citizens and our businesses," the foreign ministry added.
"Following the decision by the Hong Kong authorities to postpone the legislative elections, France underscores the vital importance of holding the elections as swiftly as possible under conditions that will allow sincere democratic expression, in accordance with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by Hong Kong's Basic Law," the official statement continues.
New security law heightens international tension
The introduction of the security law has raised new tensions between China and the West, compounding existing strains over the treatment of the Uyghur minority and the behaviour of telecoms giant Huawei.
Britain last month suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong "immediately and indefinitely" in response to the new law, while Germany suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong over the decision to push back local elections by a year.
Europe showing a united front against Beijing
The EU has already agreed on options for drawing the consequences of the new situation in Hong Kong.
On 28 July, the Council of the European Union adopted conclusions expressing its deep concern and reaffirming EU support for Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, in accordance with the "one country, two systems" principle, as well as the EU's solidarity with Hong Kong's population.