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A police officer fires a tear-gas canister in front of the Hong Kong government headquarters in Admiralty on June 12 to keep protesters away. Photo: Sam Tsang

Britain suspends exports of tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong after police and demonstrators clash at extradition bill protests

  • British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt calls for ‘a robust, independent investigation’ into ‘violent scenes’ during demonstrations
  • He says no further export licences for crowd control gear will be issued until human rights concerns are addressed

Britain urged Hong Kong on Tuesday to conduct an independent investigation into clashes between police and protesters, and suspended export licences for crowd control equipment.

“We remain very concerned with the situation in Hong Kong,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs in parliament’s lower House of Commons.

“I today urge the Hong Kong SAR government to establish a robust, independent investigation into the violent scenes that we saw.

“The outcome of that investigation will inform our assessment of future export licence applications to the Hong Kong police.

“And we will not issue any further export licences for crowd control equipment to Hong Kong unless we are satisfied that concerns raised on human rights and fundamental freedoms have been thoroughly addressed.”


A Foreign Office source said there were currently no live licences for these kind of exports, but there would now be no new ones until conditions were met.

The last UK export licence for tear gas hand grenades and tear gas cartridges for Hong Kong police to use in training was issued in July 2018, the ministry said earlier this month.

Police urged to ‘behave’ as hospital actions during protests slammed

The last export licence for rubber bullets was in July 2015, while an open licence for riot shields was rejected in April 2019.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt attends an interview outside his home in London on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong has been rocked by the worst political unrest since its 1997 handover from Britain to China.

Millions have marched this month to oppose a hugely unpopular proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to the Chinese mainland and other territories with which the city does not have formal extradition agreements.

Officers used tear gas and rubber bullets last week to clear protesters during another massive demonstration outside the city’s parliament.