New Zealand yesterday announced that it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
The move came after China passed sweeping new security legislation for the territory.
New Zealand is the final member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance to take such action after the Australia, Britain, Canada and the US previously announced similar measures.
New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters said that the new legislation goes against commitments China made to the international community.
“New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China,” Peters said.
Moreover, Wellington would treat military and technology exports to Hong Kong in the same way as it treats such exports to China, Peters said.
New Zealand has also updated its travel advice to warn its citizens about the risks they face under the new legislation.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the nation is following its principles.
“We do have a mature relationship with China,” Ardern said. “There have been occasions where we have taken different positions. This obviously will be one of them.”
China’s embassy in Wellington, led by Ambassador Wu Xi (吳璽), said that New Zealand should stop interfering in China’s affairs.
“The New Zealand government’s decision is a serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations,” the embassy said in a statement. “It is a gross interference in China’s internal affairs. The Chinese side has lodged its grave concern and strong opposition.”
Peters said that New Zealand had taken its stance independently of its Five Eyes partners and was not concerned about any effects on exports.
“We are surely entitled as a democracy to make our views known,” he said.
New Zealand remains deeply concerned about the legislation and would monitor the situation in Hong Kong as the legislation is enforced, he said.
Later in the day, China announced that Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain would be suspended.
“The wrong action of Canada, Australia and the UK in politicizing judicial cooperation with Hong Kong has seriously hurt the basis of judicial cooperation,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
“China has decided to suspend extradition treaties between Hong Kong and Canada, Australia and UK, as well as criminal justice cooperation agreements,” Wang said.
The Chinese government reserves the right to take action against New Zealand’s move, he added.
Wang said that the countries were using Hong Kong’s legislation as “an excuse to unilaterally announce the suspension of extradition treaties” with the territory.
Additional reporting by AFP
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