Australia suspends extradition treaty with HK, extends visas


Foreign Desk Report

SYDNEY: Australia said on Thursday it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to a new security law imposed there and announced measures to attract businesses from the Asian financial hub, provoking an angry response from Beijing.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the law introduced last week in Hong Kong was a fundamental change of circumstances and Australia would suspend the extradition agreement. “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, outlining changes to visa programmes.
Morrison said Hong Kong students, graduates and workers in Australia on temporary visas will have the opportunity to stay and work for an extra five years and apply for permanent residency after that time. Future student visas would also be offered for five years, however Morrison said they were “not expecting large numbers of applicants any time soon”.
Speaking in Beijing, FM spokesman Zhao Lijian said Morrison’s govt should change course and stop interfering in Chinese affairs, warning that China, the biggest customer for Australian exports, reserved the right to take retaliatory action. Two-way trade between the countries was worth A$235 billion last year. Chinese embassy in Canberra warned earlier that unless Australia stopped meddling “it will lead to nothing but lifting a rock only to hit its own feet”.
There are 10,000 Hong Kong citizens in Australia on student visas or temporary work visas, with a further 2,500 outside Australia and 1,250 applications on hand, according to the government.