Australia suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty

Australia suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty
Australia says, China's new national security law "undermines" Hong Kong's current freedoms. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: In response to fears over a new national security law imposed by China in Hong Kong, Australia has suspended its extradition treaty with the territory.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new law undermined “Hong Kong’s own basic law” and the city’s current level of autonomy from China. Mr Morrison has also offered to extend visas to five years for Hong Kong residents currently in Australia.

The offer would enable a pathway to permanent residency for about 10,000 Hong Kong residents currently studying and working in Australia, Mr Morrison said.

The UK and Canada have also recently suspended extradition treaty agreements.

Mr Morrison said Australia had already formally notified Hong Kong and advised the Chinese authorities on the treaty change.

Last week, China pushed through the wide-ranging law, which critics say makes it easier to punish protesters and critics of the Chinese government.

Hong Kong’s government says the law is required to bring order to a city that saw mass pro-democracy protests last year that often turned violent.

As the extent of the law’s reach is still uncertain, critics have said the law could also lead to foreign nationals being arbitrarily detained in Hong Kong.

That has led to other nations, including Australia upgrading their travel advice to citizens in Hong Kong.

In a message on Thursday, Australia urged its 100,000 nationals in Hong Kong to reconsider their stay there.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: “You may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds. You could break the law without intending to. If you’re concerned about the new law, reconsider your need to remain in Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 under that declaration, with certain freedoms guaranteed for at least 50 years under the “one country, two systems” agreement.

Numerous other countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, and Japan have also expressed concern over the imposition of the law. But China also called them not to interfere over Hong Kong.

The new law targets subversion, secession and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said last week that up to three million Hong Kong residents are allowed to be settled in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship.

Mr Johnson said Hong Kong’s freedoms were being violated by a new security law and those affected would be offered a “route” out of the former UK colony.

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