In a Friday press conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would be suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, citing his country’s “grave concern” over Beijing’s new national security law, which was enacted last week.
The decision to stop extraditing people to Hong Kong was announced along with other moves to sanction China over its treatment of Hong Kong. Trudeau also stated that “sensitive” Canadian exports to Hong Kong would undergo the same treatment as goods destined for the mainland and that the export of military items to Hong Kong would cease immediately.
Trudeau’s actions are part of the growing international response to China’s new national security law for Hong Kong that would grant the mainland sweeping powers over the city.
“We are extremely concerned about the situation in Hong Kong,” said Trudeau. “We will continue to look at responses, working closely with our allies, including our Five Eyes allies, who have made very strong statements in regards to the decision by the Chinese government to move forward and weaken the one country, two systems principle.”
He added that Canada will also consider other measures to help Hong Kongers such as examining immigration policies, but did not give further details.
Separately, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne spoke out against China’s national security law and its “secretive” introduction into the city’s legislation “without the participation of Hong Kong’s legislature, judiciary or people, and in violation of international obligations.”
“This is a significant step back in terms of freedom and liberty … we had been hoping Beijing would listen to the international community and reverse course,” Champagne said on Friday.
“[There is] a deep reflection in many capitals around the world as to how best to deal with China and its assertiveness,” he added, explaining that Canada had to reassess existing arrangements in Hong Kong due to China’s recent actions.
In a statement released by the Chinese embassy in Ottawa on Saturday, China defended the newly enacted law in response to Canada’s “unwarranted comments” and actions, claiming that it would “ensure social order … and benefit Hong Kong citizens and international investors.”
An embassy spokesperson also accused Canadian leaders of having “grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs.”
“Some Western countries including Canada have been meddling in Hong Kong affairs under the pretext of human rights, which seriously violates international law and basic norms of international relations,” the statement read.
On Saturday, Hong Kong security minister John Lee Ka-chiu also criticized Canada’s plans to suspend the extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
“If the Canadian administration allows politics to overrule the rule of law, it must also explain to the world on what grounds could they allow fugitives to go scot-free,” he said on a radio program, adding that fugitives who were exchanged between the two places previously had always been involved in serious crimes.
While China maintains a firm attitude regarding their right to exercise power in the city, pro-democracy activists are still urging foreign governments to take action against China, despite the law prohibiting acts of collusion with foreign forces.
Nathan Law, the former chairman and founder of now-disbanded pro-democracy organization Demosisto, called on the international community to “multilaterally deal with the China issue in a more assertive way.”
“The protests in Hong Kong have been a window for the world to recognise that China is getting more and more authoritarian,” Law told Reuters in a video call.
In response to concerns from business people about the economic effects that may occur as a result of the political unrest in the global business hub, Law stressed that “It is important we prioritise human rights issues over trade when we deal with China.”
“The national security law is basically the end of ‘one country, two systems’ because there is no longer two systems, no more firewall between Hong Kong and China – it is basically merged,” he said.
“The international community should recognise that and put relevant mechanisms to hold China accountable.”
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