NZ to review relationship with Hong Kong

Riot police patrol at a shopping mall during a protest after China's parliament passes a national...
Riot police patrol at a shopping mall during a protest after China's parliament passes a national security law for Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters
The New Zealand Government is "reviewing the settings of its relationship" with Hong Kong, the Foreign Affairs Minister has announced.

It follows the introduction of a national security law by Beijing that criminalises forms of political protest with penalties including life imprisonment.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the new national security law had "fundamentally changed the environment for international engagement there".

"New Zealand remains deeply concerned at the imposition of this legislation on Hong Kong.

"Accordingly, the government has directed officials to review all of New Zealand's policy settings with respect to Hong Kong to determine the appropriate nature of our cooperation going forward.

"This will be a deliberate, considered review across all of our settings, including extradition arrangements, controls on exports of strategic goods, and travel advice.

"New Zealand shares the international community's significant and longstanding stake in Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. We will continue to monitor the law's impact on the people of Hong Kong, with whom we share close links," said Peters.

Earlier today, the Government's travel advisory warned New Zealanders in Hong Kong they face an increased risk of arrest.

"This legislation could be interpreted broadly, leading to increased risk of arrest and prosecution on national security grounds for a wide range of activity, including protest activity," the SafeTravel website said.

It coincides with the Australian government's advisory to its citizens in Hong Kong, warning Australians who visit the city "may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds".

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was already advising travellers not to travel to China - or anywhere overseas - because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The news from across the Tasman comes after a Canadian government official told Reuters that foreign ministers from the Five Eyes group discussed the situation in Hong Kong during a conference call.

The official declined to elaborate. The Five Eyes groups Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Separately, Canada's Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted that he discussed with his counterparts from the other countries many issues regarding international peace and security.

 

Last week, Winston Peters questioned the controversial new security law, saying it was a critical moment for fundamental human rights and freedoms protected in Hong Kong for generations

AUSTRALIA OFFERS EXTENDED VISAS

Australia is offering extended visas to Hong Kong residents who feel threatened by new national security laws imposed by Beijing.

The Morrison government will establish an incentive programme for Hong Kong businesses to relocate to Australia, with pathways to permanent residency for their staff.

Australia has also suspended an extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the laws undermined Hong Kong's independence, basic law and "one country, two systems" pact with Beijing.

Australia has decided against opening up a new humanitarian intake for Hong Kong residents who fear persecution under the laws. Instead, it will focus on students and temporary visa holders - primarily those who are already in Australia.

There are currently 8200 students, 900 graduates and 570 temporary skilled visa holders in Australia from Hong Kong.

Another 2300 Hong Kong students, 130 graduates and 100 temporary skilled workers outside Australia, for reasons such as visiting family or holidays, have Australian visas.

Under changes outlined on Thursday, students from Hong Kong will be eligible for a five-year temporary graduate visa once they conclude their courses, along with a pathway to permanent residency.

Former students still in Australia will be given another five years as well.

Temporary visa holders from Hong Kong will be offered an extra five years in the country and a pathway to citizenship.

Future applicants for temporary skilled visas will be able to come for five years.

- RNZ and AAP

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