The Australian government suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong today as the fallout over China’s new security law continues. Under the recently-passed law, China will have the authority to punish acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Many view the law as extending authoritarian rule over Hong Kong and its citizens.
And Australia says the law fundamentally changes the relationship countries will have with Hong Kong going forward.
“There will be citizens of Hong Kong who may be looking to move elsewhere, to start a new life somewhere else, to take their skills, their businesses,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today.
Morrison also outlined changes to existing visa programs which would allow Hong Kong students, graduates and workers in Australia on temporary visas to extend their stays for an another five years. Additionally, they will be able to apply for permanent residency after that.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China reserves the right to take retaliatory measures. China is Australia’s biggest customer for exports. Trade between the two countries was about $160 billion last year alone.