Hong Kong Government accuses Australia of “political agenda” in response to Beijing’s security clampdown
HONG KONG - The Hong Kong SAR Government has issued a statement accusing Australia of allowing what it terms a "political agenda" to "override legal co-operation in criminal matters" by suspending "the agreement on surrender of fugitive offenders".
"Obviously such unilateral action will not be helpful to the fight against international crime," the statement says.
The Australian Government this week suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and offered potential Australian citizenship to thousands of Hong Kong people following implementation by China's Central Government of new security laws in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Government statement, issued late on Thursday, makes no reference to Australia's offer to make Hong Kong students in Australia eligible for temporary visas of up to five years, and to provide "pathways" to permanent Australian citizenship for skilled Hong Kong residents and Hong Kong businesses.
These announcements have brought a strong reaction from China, with the Chinese Embassy in Canberra accusing Australia of "gross interference" in China's internal affairs, in line with the Canberra Embassy's "wolf warrior" form of diplomacy.
But a public statement by the Hong Kong Government on a political issue is highly unusual, with political matters since 1997 being handled by the Chinese Central Government, in accordance with Hong Kong's Basic Law.
The statement issued on Thursday was originally made in Hong Kong. It is being distributed in Australia through the Sydney office of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.
The HKSAR statement in full follows:
Statement from a spokesman of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) in response to Australia's suspension of extradition agreement with Hong Kong:
"We express deep regret and disappointment over Australia's decision to suspend the agreement on surrender of fugitive offenders which allows political agenda to override legal co-operation in criminal matters. Obviously such unilateral action will not be helpful to the fight against international crime. The HKSARG shall monitor the development. The decision will not undermine our determination to continue co-operation with the international community in the fight against crimes."