NZ suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong

Decision follows similar moves by countries like Canada, UK; China lodges grave concern, threatens retaliation

Mr Winston Peters said New Zealand can no longer trust the independence of Hong Kong's criminal justice system.
Mr Winston Peters said New Zealand can no longer trust the independence of Hong Kong's criminal justice system.

WELLINGTON • New Zealand has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and made a number of other changes following China's decision to pass a national security law for the territory, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said yesterday.

"New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong's criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China," Mr Peters said in a statement. "If China in future shows adherence to the 'one country, two systems' framework then we could reconsider this decision."

Beijing imposed new legislation on the former British colony earlier this month despite protests from Hong Kongers and Western nations, setting the financial hub on a more authoritarian track.

Australia, Canada and Britain all suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong earlier this month.

United States President Donald Trump has ended preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.

Mr Peters said New Zealand will treat military and dual-use goods and technology exports to Hong Kong in the same way as it treats such exports to China as part of a review of its overall relationship with Hong Kong.

Travel advice has been updated to alert New Zealanders to the risks presented by the new security law, the minister added.

In a website statement, the Chinese embassy in New Zealand called the decision a violation of international law and gross interference in China's internal affairs.

"The Chinese side has lodged its grave concern and strong opposition," an embassy representative said in the statement.

China reserves the right to make a further response, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a daily news conference in Beijing. "Any schemes to suppress China will never prevail."

Mr Wang added: "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."

China is New Zealand's largest trading partner, with annual two-way trade recently exceeding NZ$32 billion (S$29 billion).

The Pacific nation's ties with China have frayed recently after it backed Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organisation.

Mr Wang also announced the suspension of Hong Kong's extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain, tit-for-tat moves following similar decisions by those countries over the new security law.

"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 Mr Wang.

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

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

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline NZ suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong. Subscribe