Australia welcomes Hong Kong citizens with open arms, suspends extradition treaty

Australia suspended the country’s extradition agreement with Hong Kong and extended visas for an estimated 10,000 Hong Kong people living in Australia over concerns of the newly passed controversial national security law which came into effect on 30th June.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new law was a fundamental change of circumstances. “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,” Morrison said.

The visas of Hongkongers living in Australia would be extended by a period of five years, and those on student or temporary work visas would be offered a pathway to permanent residency.

Australia had earlier offered asylum to some 42,000 Chinese students who were in Australia after a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests Tiananmen Square in 1989.

In a big pitch Australia also offered firms to relocate headquarters from Hong Kong to Australia.

“If there are businesses that wish to relocate to Australia, creating jobs, bringing investment, creating opportunities for Australia then we will be very proactive in seeking to encourage that,” Morrison added.

The country also updated its travel advisory for Hong Kong, which is currently home to about 100,000 Australians.

The travel advice says Australians “may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds”.

Meanwhile, neighbouring New Zealand also said that it was reviewing relations with Hong Kong including extradition arrangements, controls on exports of strategic goods and travel advice.

Canada last week announced it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

National Security Law:

The law came into force on 30th June, night 11pm with four categories of offences – secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security.

The punishment varies between a life to a three year imprisonment.

‘Anti-nationals’ can be extradited to mainland China from Hong Kong. The law also subverts the Hong Kong judiciary as only Beijing appointed judges can hear such matters.

The law is applicable to entire China including Hong Kong. Even foreign nationals could face action under this law if they are found to be anti-Beijing.