Earlier, New Zealand suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, joining Canada, Australia and the UK which have already6 made the same moves in response to China's national security law on the territory.

Hong Kong and Chinese national flags are flown behind a pair of surveillance cameras outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong, China July 20, 2020.
Hong Kong and Chinese national flags are flown behind a pair of surveillance cameras outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong, China July 20, 2020. (Reuters)

China has announced the suspension of Hong Kong's extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain, a tit-for-tat move following similar decisions by those countries over a controversial new security law.

Canada, Britain and Australia are part of the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance. The other members are New Zealand, which suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong earlier on Tuesday, and the United States, which has signalled it is preparing to do the same.  

"The wrong action of Canada, Australia and the UK in politicising judicial cooperation with Hong Kong has seriously hurt the basis of judicial cooperation," said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a regular press briefing.

"China has decided to suspend extradition treaties between Hong Kong and Canada, Australia and UK, as well as criminal justice cooperation agreements."

Critics have said the Hong Kong security law is an erosion of civil liberties and human rights in the financial hub, which has been semi-autonomous from China since its handover from Britain in 1997.

But Wang accused the countries of having used the national security law as "an excuse to unilaterally announce the suspension of extradition treaties" with Hong Kong.

New Zealand's move

Earlier today, New Zealand suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

Announcing the move on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said China's new law went against commitments China had 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 in a statement.

"If China in future shows adherence to the ‘one country, two systems’ framework then we could reconsider this decision."

New Zealand is the final member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance to take such action after the US, Australia, Canada and the UK previously announced similar measures.

New Zealand relies on China as its largest trading partner and in the past has often tried to avoid direct political confrontation. China each year buys billions of dollars worth of New Zealand's agricultural goods, including its lucrative milk powder which is used in infant formula.

Peters said there would be other changes to the relationship. New Zealand would now treat military and technology exports to Hong Kong in the same way as it treats such exports to China, he said, and had updated its travel advice to warn New Zealanders about the risks they faced under the new law.

READ MORE:How the world reacted to China’s national security law for Hong Kong

'Mature relationship with China'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was 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 says the new security law is needed to combat terrorism and separatism and prevent Hong Kong from becoming a base for undermining Chinese state power. 

In general, cases would be tried in Hong Kong, but the law allows for mainland jurisdiction in some circumstances.

Peters said New Zealand had taken its stance independently of its Five Eyes partners and wasn't concerned about any impact on exports.

“We are surely entitled as a democracy to make our views known,” he said.

He said New Zealand remains deeply concerned about the legislation and would monitor the situation in Hong Kong as the new law was enforced.

China's embassy in Wellington, led by ambassador Wu Xi, said Tuesday it was preparing a response to the announcement. Earlier this month, as New Zealand considered such a move, the embassy urged New Zealand to “stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, and refrain from going any further down the wrong path.”

READ MORE: Hong Kong details new security law powers, asks UK to stop interference 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies