Sydney, Australia, Jul 9 (efe-epa).- The Australian government on Thursday announced the suspension of its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to the contentious new national security law Beijing has imposed on the former British colony.
Canberra will also offer a path for thousands of Hong Kongers in the country to obtain permanent residency.
“Firstly, let me say that our government, together with other governments around the world, have been very consistent in expressing our concerns about the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
He added that the new Chinese “national security law constitutes a fundamental change of circumstances in respect to our extradition agreement with Hong Kong and so Australia today has taken steps to suspend our extradition agreement.”
The Hong Kong and Chinese authorities had been notified, he said, and the country’s travel advisory for the special administrative region had been updated.
The law, which was approved in May by the Chinese legislature, has been criticized by the governments including the United States and the United Kingdom. The latter decided to grant residency permission and eventually British nationality to around 3 million people from Hong Kong. Canada has also suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong.
Morrison told journalists in Canberra that his government would provide help to some 10,000 skilled and graduate visa holders from Hong Kong who are already in Australia.
“We will be extending visas by five years from today, with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of those five years,” he said, adding that similar paths will be provided to those seeking visas in the future and will seek to attract entrepreneurs and investors from the former British colony.
In the past, the Australian government has said that residents of Hong Kong who fear political persecution may seek asylum under the current existing humanitarian channels in Australia, bu it is also looking into alternative ways to offer residency to these people.
Morrison said that “the most significant impact of the decisions we’ve made today are for those around 10,000 people who are already in Australia,” after clarifying that “the refugee and humanitarian stream remains available for those seeking to apply through that channel, and that is available to people all around the world.” EFE-EPA