TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After Canada and Australia's suspension of their respective extradition treaties with Hong Kong in response to its contentious new security law, New Zealand is reviewing its own extradition agreement after initially opting out of a joint condemnation of the law by its fellow Five Eyes members.
New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Taiwan News on Friday (July 10) that the country will reconsider its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. According to a ministry spokesperson, "There will be a stocktake of New Zealand-Hong Kong relationship settings. Any decisions New Zealand takes, including in relation to extradition, will be the result of this assessment."
The news comes after New Zealand was noticeably absent from a strongly worded joint statement by the Five Eyes that condemned the national security law, which critics say circumvented the semi-autonomous city's legal system and constitutes a violation of the "one country, two systems" framework promised by Beijing. Although Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters did express concerns about the legislation separately, former diplomat Gerald Hensley said it was "disappointing, even a bit shaming, that [New Zealand] has felt unable to join its friends in calling out the breach of the international treaty," Stuff reported.
The Five Eyes is an intelligence-sharing alliance that comprises the U.S. and five Commonwealth partners: the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday (July 9) said Canberra was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, citing the "fundamental change of circumstances" brought about by the law, and promised five-year visa extensions for Hong Kong residents with skilled or student visas. Last week, Morrison's counterpart in Canada Justin Trudeau revealed that Ottawa was suspending its extradition treaty in addition to banning the export of "sensitive military items" to Hong Kong, as it has to the rest of China.
Also in recent weeks, the U.S. revoked the special status the city has enjoyed for decades, and Congress passed a bill that would impose sanctions on officials deemed to have eroded its autonomy, including Chinese Communist Party officials and police who have dealt harshly with protesters, as well as banks that do business with them. Meanwhile, the U.K. has agreed to admit nearly 3 million Hongkongers who either hold or are eligible for a British overseas passport to work in the country on renewable one-year visas with a path to citizenship.
Hong Kong has entered uncertain territory under the national security legislation, which introduced the loosely defined crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers — each carrying sentences of up to life imprisonment — and central government security agents have been authorized to enforce it.
However, the city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) maintains it is in the interest of preserving "one country, two systems." She stated on Tuesday (July 7) that the law "would not undermine human rights and freedoms" but instead guarantee long-term stability for the protest-wracked city, Yahoo News reported.