WELLINGTON: New Zealand has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and made a number of other changes in light of China’s decision to pass a national security law for Hong Kong, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said on Tuesday (Jul 28).
“New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China,” Peters said in a statement.
“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,” Peters added.
“If China in future shows adherence to the ‘one country, two systems’ framework then we could reconsider this decision.”
Beijing imposed new legislation on Hong Kong earlier this month despite protests from Hong Kongers and Western nations.
Australia, Canada and the UK all suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong earlier this month. US President Donald Trump has ended preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.
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, he added.
The 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 maximum penalties of life imprisonment.
China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner, with annual two-way trade recently exceeding NZ$32 billion (US$21 billion).
New Zealand’s ties with China have frayed recently after the pacific nation backed Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Organization (WHO).
There was no immediate response from the Chinese embassy in Wellington, but it warned earlier this month that attempts to pressure Beijing on the national security law would amount to “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.
China passed the security law on Jun 30, granting Beijing jurisdiction in some national security cases and allowing mainland security agents to set up shop openly in the city for the first time.