Foreign Minister Winston Peters said New Zealand could no longer believe that the Hong Kong criminal justice system was quite independent from China
Wellington: New Zealand announced Tuesday that it would follow in the footsteps of its intelligence allies by delaying an extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
This step was taken in response to China through new security laws that swept the semi-autonomous region.
New Zealand is the last member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing alliance to take such action after the US, Australia, Canada and Britain previously announced similar actions.
New Zealand relies on China as its biggest trading partner and in the past has often tried to avoid direct political confrontations. China buys New Zealand agricultural goods worth billions of dollars each year, including beneficial milk powder used in infant formula.
But Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the new law was contrary to the commitments China had made to the international community.
“New Zealand can no longer believe that the Hong Kong criminal justice system is quite independent from China,” Peters said in a statement.
He said there would be other changes to the relationship. New Zealand will now treat military and technology exports to Hong Kong in the same way as treating such exports to China, he said, and has updated his travel advice to warn New Zealanders about the risks they face under the new law.
“New Zealand remains very concerned about the imposition of this law, and we will continue to monitor the situation in Hong Kong when the law is implemented,” Peters said. “As a result, a review of our cooperation arrangements with Hong Kong will be ongoing.”
China says new security laws are needed to fight terrorism and separatism and prevent Hong Kong from being a base to weaken the power of the Chinese state. In general, cases will be tried in Hong Kong, but the law allows for inland jurisdiction in some circumstances.
The Chinese embassy in Wellington, led by ambassador Wu Xi, said Tuesday that it was preparing a response to the announcement. Earlier this month, as New Zealand considered the move, the embassy issued a statement urging the country to “stop interfering in Hong Kong and Chinese domestic affairs, and refrain from going any further in the wrong direction.”
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