Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is suspending Canada’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong, making it the first country to break law enforcement links with the former British colony since China tightened its control over the territory.
Trudeau announced the measures at a press conference, joining allies in efforts to sanction China. Steps will include a ban on the export of sensitive military equipment to Hong Kong and a new
travel advisory warning of the impacts of new security legislation. Hong Kong has extradition pacts with 30 countries and jurisdictions around the world including the US, Europe and Australia.
“Canada is a firm believer in the one country, two system framework,” Trudeau told reporters near Ottawa, referring to the principle by which the Asian financial hub is overseen by Beijing. “We will continue to support the many connections between Canada and Hong Kong, while also standing up for its people.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a landmark national security law for Hong Kong earlier this week, a sweeping attempt to quell dissent that drew fresh retaliation and condemnation from around the world. Hong Kong filed its first charges under the new law while declaring illegal
a key slogan chanted by hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters over months of rallies.
Trudeau said Canada will look at additional measures in the coming days and weeks, including around immigration. He didn’t give details. Hong Kong is home to about 300,000 Canadians.
“This process demonstrated disregard for Hong Kong’s Basic Law,” Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement. “Hong Kong’s role as a global hub was built on that foundation. Without it, Canada is forced to reassess existing arrangements.”
Canada currently has no extradition treaty with China.
Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee criticised Canada’s decision, accusing Ottawa of “riding roughshod” over the rule of law. Canada needs to give a detailed explanation of its extradition
decision to the international community, Radio Television Hong Kong cited him as saying Saturday.
One or two fugitives are transferred between the two places every year — all pertaining to serious crimes, RTHK quoted Lee as saying. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng told the broadcaster there is a “good chance” that the decision violates international law.
The move by Trudeau will only heighten tensions between the two countries after the arrest of Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in 2018. Beijing subsequently arrested two Canadians and charged them with espionage in June.