Australia halts Hong Kong extradition treaty

The move came after Chinese President Xi Jinping last month signed a controversial legislation to impose a national security law in Hong Kong that allowed Beijing to crackdown against dissent, criminalising sedition and curtailing protests with punishments up to life in prison

Natasha ChakuUpdated: Thursday, July 09, 2020, 10:42 PM IST
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PIC: AFP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday announced the suspension of Australia's extradition treaty with Hong Kong over the controversial Chinese national security law imposed there and offered visas to 10,000 students and temporary skilled workers from the former British territory to start a new life in this country.

The move came after Chinese President Xi Jinping last month signed a controversial legislation to impose a national security law in Hong Kong that allowed Beijing to crackdown against dissent, criminalising sedition and curtailing protests with punishments up to life in prison.

Morrison said the new national security laws imposed by China in Hong Kong represented a "fundamental change of circumstances" for many governments around the world.

"Our decision to suspend the extradition agreement with Hong Kong represents an acknowledgement of the fundamental change of circumstances in relation to Hong Kong because of the new security law, which in our view undermines the 'one country, two systems' framework, and Hong Kong's own basic law and the high degree of autonomy guaranteed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was set out there," Morrison said in Canberra.

Hong Kong is governed under the principle of "one country, two systems", under which China has agreed to give the region a high degree of autonomy and to preserve its economic and social systems for 50 years from the date of the handover.

The former British colony became a special administrative region of China on July 1, 1997, when Britain's 99-year lease of the New Territories, north of Hong Kong island, expired.

Morrison said immigration has been a pillar of the strength of Australia and it has been a very welcoming country to such people from all around the world.

He said the Australian government will also extend Hong Kong-based businesses to relocate to the country and prioritise highly skilled applicants through existing streams from the Chinese territory.

Meanwhile, Beijing condemned the Australian announcements as violations of "fundamental principles of international relations".

"China... reserves the right to take further reactions, all consequences will be borne by Australia," warned Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

"Any attempts to suppress China will never succeed."

Australia looking at banning TikTok

Following India and the US, several Australian legislators are proposing to ban TikTok as they too fear the app was being used by the Chinese government to collect users' data, reported the South China Morning Post.

Recently, Liberal Senator Jim Molan said TikTok was being "used and abused" by the Chinese government. Labor Senator Jenny McAllister has reportedly demanded the TikTok's representatives to face the Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media.

While TikTok continues to refute the allegations, the move has sparked questions on whether China can really get access to users' data from TikTok? The South China Morning Post reported that though the TikTok owner ByteDance have constantly claimed that its data is stored in servers in the US and Singapore but it is not a difficult task for the Chinese government to get access to the data.

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