US suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong

US suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong (2)
US flags are waved at a pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong on November 28. Source: Bloomberg
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Daily US Times: The US has halted its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, the latest move to pressure China after the country imposed a controversial national security law on the former British territory.

The latest decision is just one of three bilateral treaties suspended on Wednesday.

The US State Department said the new security law in the city had “crushed the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong”.

President Donald Trump also ended Hong Kong’s preferential trade and diplomatic status with the US last month.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “The Chinese Communist Party chose to crush the freedoms and autonomy of the people of Hong Kong,” adding that because of the Communist Party’s actions the United States would terminate or suspend three treaties with Hong Kong.

Beijing has not yet commented on the latest suspensions, which were widely expected as the US imposed a raft of punitive measures in the wake of the new security law in Hong Kong.

What are the latest measures?

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus in a statement said they cover “the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of sentenced persons and reciprocal exemptions on income derived from the international operation of ships”.

Other nations, such as Germany, Australia and the UK have also suspended extradition treaty with HK in recent weeks.

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam and 10 other top officials from Hong Kong and mainland China earlier this month.

Mr Trump also praised Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Laim – a prominent pro-democracy voice and a supporter of protests that erupted last year in Hong Kong, on Wednesday, who was detained last week under the law.

In words bound to anger China, he called 71-year-old Mr Lai “a brave man”.

What does the security law mean for Hong Kong?

The US sees the news security law imposed in Hong Kong as a threat to the freedoms of the residents that were guaranteed under the handover agreement.

Its special status was agreed between China and Hong Kong’s former colonial power, the United Kingdom before sovereignty was returned to Beijing in 1997.

The security law – which outlaws criticism of China’s government – is the most sweeping change to the political landscape of the territory since then.

Critics say it effectively curtails freedom of speech and protest. But China has said the new law will return stability in Hong Kong after a year of unrest.

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