Foreign Affairs

NZ suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong

China has accused New Zealand of "a serious violation of international law" for making the call to no longer extradite alleged criminals to Hong Kong, as the Government joins Five Eyes partners in taking a stand on national security legislation

The Government has suspended New Zealand's extradition treaty with Hong Kong over the territory's controversial national security law, saying its justice system's independence from China can no longer be trusted.

The decision - which has attracted predictable pushback from Beijing - places the country alongside Five Eyes partners Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom in taking action over the controversial legislation.

The law was drafted behind closed doors without the involvement of Hong Kong lawmakers, and gives Beijing sweeping powers to crack down on those in the territory it deems suspected criminals.

Announcing the Government's decision, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said China's passage of the national security legislation had "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".

The suspension of the extradition treaty was a proportionate and deliberate response to Beijing's actions, Peters said.

“New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China. If China in future shows adherence to the ‘one country, two systems’ framework then we could reconsider this decision.”

A wider review of New Zealand's relationship with Hong Kong was still underway, but the Government had already agreed to two other changes.

The export of military and dual-use goods and technology to Hong Kong would be treated in the same way as those to China, while New Zealand's travel advice had also been updated to warn Kiwis of the risks presented by the national security law.

New Zealand remained deeply concerned at the law's imposition and could make further changes in future, Peters said.

Responding to the news, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy accused New Zealand of "a serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations".

"It is a gross interference in China's internal affairs. The Chinese side has lodged its grave concern and strong opposition," the spokesman said.

As a special administrative region, Hong Kong's affairs were "entirely China's internal affairs" and should not be subject to foreign interference.

"The Chinese side urges the New Zealand side to abide by the international law and the basic norms governing international relations, immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs in any forms to avoid further harm to China-New Zealand relations," the spokesman said.

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