The Prime Minister vowed to be “tough” on China, saying he has “serious concerns” about the human rights abuses of the Uighur Muslim population and the new national security law imposed on Hong Kong.
It comes amid multiple reports that Britain is expected to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong later on Monday, following similar moves by the US, Canada and Australia.
Pressed on the reports on a visit to a school in Kent on Monday, Mr Johnson 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.”
Dominic Raab confirmed at the weekend that he had completed a review of Britain’s extradition arrangements. He will lay out any concrete changes in a statement to Parliament this afternoon.
The move to shelve the treaty, which has been in place for more than 30 years, would mark a drastic ramping up of tensions with the Communist regime.
President Xi Jinping is already thought to be angered over Downing Street’s decision last week to exclude the tech giant Huawei from the UK’s 5G network – reversing a decision in January allowing it a limited role.
Mr Raab threatened to pour further fuel on flames at the weekend, accusing the communist regime of committing “gross, egregious human rights abuses” against the country’s Uighur population in the north-western Xinjiang province.
The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said Beijing was still evaluating its response to the Huawei ruling.
The extradition treaty allows Britain to request that Hong Kong hand over residents suspected of committing a crime to pass through the UK criminal justice system, and vice-versa.
However, No 10 fears that those it extradites to Hong Kong could be transferred into China to face more opaque proceedings.
It follows a draconian security law imposed on the region by Beijing on June 30, widely condemned worldwide for criminalising dissent, stifling free speech and wiping away Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Earlier Education Secretary Gavin Williamson pledged to take a global lead in “speaking out” against “inappropriate” and “gross” human rights abuses in the country.
“We want to work with China and we always will want to work with China. It is an important player on the world stage,” he told Sky News.
“But we must always, and will always, speak out where we think they are doing things that are wrong.”
It is believed that up to a million Uighur people have been detained over the past few years in what China calls “re-education camps”, high-security prisons where reports of “brainwashing” have surfaced.