German gunmaker Heckler & Koch GmbH has stopped selling its signature MP5 submachine guns to the Hong Kong police force, probably due to a stepped-up ban on selling weaponry and ammunition to non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization members, according to reports by several Hong Kong newspapers.

The MP5 is one of the most widely used submachine guns across the globe, having been adopted by numerous military, law enforcement, SWAT teams and security organizations.

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Hong Kong police officers carrying MP5 guns. Photo: GovHK

A number of departments and squads within the Hong Kong police force tasked with VIP protection and anti-terrorism, including its ace Special Duties Unit, aka Flying Tigers, have been longtime buyers of the automatic carbine since the 1970s.

But it has been revealed that the German supplier has been unable to fulfil recent orders from Hong Kong since this year, after Berlin applied more red tape on issuing arms export certificates, effectively barring such exports to clients from non-NATO member countries. Reuters also reported in November 2016 that Heckler & Koch would no longer be allowed to sell guns outside Europe and North America.

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MP5 guns seen during a drill. Photo: GovHK

Following Hong Kong’s 2014 mass protests against Beijing’s sham universal suffrage offer that saw the city’s central business district occupied for months, there were reports suggesting that Berlin may consider scrutinizing exports of arms and ammunition to the city.

Berlin has always been an outspoken critic of Beijing’s human rights violations, and a European Union arms embargo has been in place since Beijing’s brutal crackdown on student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Hong Kong’s security minister John Lee told reporters on Thursday that the police wouldn’t count on just a few suppliers to procure weapons, nor would it rely on just one single model during operations, in particular for the city’s counterterrorism initiatives.

In recent years, Hong Kong police have started equipping its frontline constables with powerful Swiss-made Sauer SIG516 assault rifles, among others.