New Zealand to 'review' its relationship with Hong Kong, as Five Eyes countries respond to Beijing's national security law

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STUFF

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern comments on the passing of China’s controversial Hong Kong security law.

New Zealand will “review” its relationship with Hong Kong, as the Five Eyes countries respond to the national security law Beijing has imposed on the city.

The foreign ministers of Five Eyes security alliance countries – which includes New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada – held a conference call on Thursday morning to discuss the national security law that has threatened democracy in Hong Kong.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters on Thursday afternoon said the Government had ordered “a deliberate, considered review across all of our settings, including extradition arrangements, controls on exports of strategic goods, and travel advice” with Hong Kong.

“China’s decision to pass a new national security law for Hong Kong has fundamentally changed the environment for international engagement there … New Zealand remains deeply concerned at the imposition of this legislation on Hong Kong.”

Pro-China supporters hold Chinese and Hong Kong national flags during a rally to celebrate the approval of a national security law for Hong Kong. (file photo)

AP

Pro-China supporters hold Chinese and Hong Kong national flags during a rally to celebrate the approval of a national security law for Hong Kong. (file photo)

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New Zealand has joined its Five Eyes allies in criticising the national security law which China passed in June, saying it compromised the “one country, two systems” arrangement under which Hong Kong maintained political independence from the mainland.

The law, a response to the city’s ongoing pro-democracy protests, has allowed China to set up security forces in Hong Kong and opens the door for prosecution of both citizens and foreigners for crimes such as subversion of the government, or harming China.

Foriegn Minister Winston Peters has ordered a review of New Zealand’s relationship with Hong Kong.

Kevin Stent/Stuff

Foriegn Minister Winston Peters has ordered a review of New Zealand’s relationship with Hong Kong.

New Zealand’s foreign ministry on Wednesday advised citizens travelling to Hong Kong that the new law, “could be interpreted broadly, leading to increased risk of arrest and prosecution on national security grounds for a wide range of activity, including protest activity”.

The response from the Five Eyes nations has differed. New Zealand decided not to join an condemnation of the law by the country’s Five Eyes partners in May, and has not moved to suspend its ties to Hong Kong.

Canada suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong three days after the law passed, and has said it will place restrictions on the trade of “sensitive goods”, including military equipment, with Hong Kong – as it does with China.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday afternoon said Australia would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and offer visa extensions and pathways to residency to Hong Kongers, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Australia has also warned its citizens not to travel to Hong Kong, saying “Under the law, you could be deported or face possible transfer to mainland China for prosecution under mainland law. The full extent of the law and how it will be applied is not yet clear”.

The United States has promised to punish China through ending policies which gave Hong Kong citizens special treatment.

China has told New Zealand to “stop interfering” in its affairs, with the China Embassy in New Zealand issuing a statement saying the law was necessary to “restore order, end chaos and resume stability”.

“We urge the New Zealand side to respect China’s sovereignty, abide by international laws and basic norms of international relations, stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, and do more to promote the sound and steady development of the China-New Zealand relations.”

Peters, who has taken medical leave to have surgery this week, did not join the Five Eyes conference call on Thursday morning.

The secretary of foreign affairs and trade, Chris Seed, joined the call for New Zealand.

Stuff