New Zealand suspends HK extradition treaty over China national security law

28-Jul-2020 Intellasia | TheGuardian | 9:42 AM Print This Post

New Zealand has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong following China’s imposition of a controversial national security law that gives it sweeping powers over the semi-autonomous region.

“New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China,” Winston Peters, New Zealand’s foreign minister, said in a statement on Tuesday. “If China in future shows adherence to the ‘one country, two systems’ framework then we could reconsider this decision.”

He added that New Zealand would now treat the export of what the government deems sensitive goods to Hong Kong including military and dual-use goods and technology as if they were being sent to China. New Zealanders travelling to Hong Kong will also be alerted “to the risks presented by the national security law”, Peters said.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters. (REUTERS)

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters. (REUTERS)

The move by a government that relied on China for NZ$20.1bn ($13bn) in export revenue in 2019 could signal a recalibration of the relationship between the countries, in which New Zealand has tried to take a “nuanced” approach to criticising its top trading partner, analysts said.

It was the last of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group of countries which comprises Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States to take action on the law, said Robert Patman, a politics professor at the University of Otago.

“New Zealand was trying to signal to China that it had its own concerns that are not simply a reflection of the United States’s concerns,” he said.

China bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature to impose the anti-sedition law in June as a way to quash anti-government and pro-democracy protests that have been running for the past year. It targets crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with penalties as severe as life in prison.

The move stunned the international community; Australia, Britain and Canada suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong earlier this month, and US President Donald Trump has ended preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.

In New Zealand, Peters said the government was still reviewing its relationship with Hong Kong and could take further action.

“China’s passage of its new national security legislation has eroded rule-of-law principles, undermined the ‘one country, two systems’ framework that underpins Hong Kong’s unique status, and gone against commitments China made to the international community,” he said.

The government would continue to monitor the application of the law, said Peters.

When the foreign minister expressed his “deep disappointment” about the law earlier this month, the Chinese embassy in New Zealand warned that it firmly opposed “any external interference in Hong Kong affairs”.



Category: Hong Kong

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