UK tells Hong Kong citizens in Britain: 'You are safe here'

British Foreign Secretary Cameron meets with Swedish Foreign Minister Billstrom in London

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain on Monday sought to reassure its community of Hong Kong citizens that they were safe from the reach of national security laws that have been introduced in the former British colony.

China-ruled Hong Kong in March enacted a new national security law that updates or introduces new laws to prohibit treason, sabotage, sedition, the theft of state secrets and espionage, with jail terms of up to life imprisonment.

"The National Security Law has no authority in the UK. We do not have an active extradition agreement with Hong Kong or China," British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in the foreword to a regular government report on Hong Kong.

"I want to assure our valued Hong Kong community in the United Kingdom: you are safe here."

Beijing, to whom Britain handed back control of Hong Kong in 1997, says the security laws are necessary to safeguard the city's stability and prosperity.

Foreign governments including the United States and Britain have criticised the new law as a fresh tool for authorities to clamp down on dissent.

"This law, rushed through the legislative process, is likely incompatible with international human rights law. It falls short of the international standards Hong Kong has promised to uphold and will have a negative impact on Hong Kong people’s ability to exercise their rights and freedoms," Cameron said.

The legislation adds to another national security law China directly imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 in response to mass pro-democracy protests.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Sachin Ravikumar and Kate Holton)