US-China Relations: US suspends extradition treaty over national security law

An American Flag is seen waving during a Rally in Hong Kong, China, October 14, 2019.

The US has halted its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, the latest move to pressure Beijing after it imposed a controversial national security on the former British territory.

It is just one of three bilateral treaties suspended on Wednesday.

The US State Department said the security law had “crushed the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong”.

Last month President Donald Trump also ended Hong Kong’s preferential trade and diplomatic status with the US.

“The Chinese Communist Party chose to crush the freedoms and autonomy of the people of Hong Kong,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted. adding that because of the Communist Party’s actions the US would terminate or suspend three treaties with Hong Kong.

China has not yet commented on the latest suspensions, which were widely expected as the US imposed a raft of punitive measures in the wake of the new law.

They cover “the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of sentenced persons and reciprocal exemptions on income derived from the international operation of ships”, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus in a statement.

Other nations, such as the UK, Germany and Australia have also suspended extradition treaties in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam and 10 other top officials from Hong Kong and mainland China.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump also praised Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, who was detained last week under the law.

In words bound to anger China, he called 71-year-old Mr Lai – a prominent pro-democracy voice and a supporter of protests that erupted last year in Hong Kong – “a brave man”.

The US sees the security law as a threat to the freedoms Hong Kong was guaranteed under the handover agreement.

Its special status was agreed between China and Hong Kong’s former colonial power, the UK, before sovereignty was returned to Beijing in 1997.

The law – which outlaws criticism of China’s government – is the most sweeping change to the political landscape of Hong Kong since then.

Critics say it effectively curtails protest and freedom of speech. But China has said the new law will return stability to the territory after a year of unrest.

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