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China halts HK extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain in tit-for-tat retaliation

China today announced the suspension of Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain in a tit-for-tat move following similar decisions by those countries over a controversial new security law.

Beijing’s spokesperson also urged New Zealand to correct its ‘mistakes’ immediately after Wellington on Tuesday stood up to Beijing and suspended its extradition agreement with the Asian financial hub. 

Western nations have angered Beijing with their responses to the law imposed on Hong Kong, which they see as an erosion of the civil liberties and human rights the city has enjoyed since its handover from Britain in 1997.

The United States has decided to rescind Hong Kong’s special trading privileges.

Washington has also signalled that it was preparing to do the same with its Hong Kong extradition treaty as its ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence partners. 

China has accused the countries of interfering in its internal affairs and defended the security law as crucial to restore order in Hong Kong following a wave of pro-democracy protests marred by violence.

‘The wrong action of Canada, Australia and the UK in politicising judicial cooperation with Hong Kong has seriously hurt the basis of judicial cooperation,’ said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a regular press briefing on Tuesday.

‘China has decided to suspend extradition treaties between Hong Kong and Canada, Australia and the UK, as well as criminal justice cooperation agreements.’

Wang accused the countries of having used the national security law as ‘an excuse to unilaterally announce the suspension of extradition treaties’ with Hong Kong.

Britain suspended its extradition treaty last week, following moves by Australia and Canada, saying the security law had ‘significantly changed key assumptions’ including a provision to try certain cases in mainland China.

London and Canberra have also angered Beijing by offering pathways to citizenship or residency to Hong Kongers looking to leave because of the new law.

New Zealand’s updated travel advice said the security law had led to an increased risk of arrest for activities such as protests, with the possibility of being removed to mainland China to face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Wang warned on Tuesday that China reserved the right to respond after New Zealand halted its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

‘New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China,’ Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said in a statement.

‘If China in future shows adherence to the “one country, two systems” framework then we could reconsider this decision.’

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country was following its principles.

‘We do have a mature relationship with China,’ Ardern said. ‘There have been occasions where we have taken different positions. This obviously will be one of them.’

China’s embassy in New Zealand on Tuesday slammed Wellington’s decision as ‘seriously violating International Law and Fundamental Principles of International Relation’.  

In Beijing, China’s foreign affairs spokesperson Wang said the country resolutely opposed to foreign forces’ intervention in Hong Kong affairs.

‘Any schemes to suppress China will never prevail,’ Wang said.

‘China urges New Zealand to immediately redress its mistake, and stop all forms of interference in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, to avoid harming China-New Zealand relations.’

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