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Asia Minute: Australia and China Clash over Hong Kong

Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, July 9, 2020.

Governments around the world are still reacting to China's latest move in Hong Kong. Last week's announcement of a new security law has led to some new policies from other national capitals — including Australia's.

Australia has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, because of the new security law that China has put in place there. Some 10,000 Hong Kong residents now in Australia on student and temporary visas will have them extended for five years, and will be given a path to permanent residency.

Not surprisingly, the reaction from China’s government was strongly negative, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying that “China reserves the right to take action, and Australia will have to bear all consequences because of that.”

A similar reaction with slightly more colorful language came from the Chinese embassy in Australia, which wrote “We urge the Australian side to immediately stop meddling  . . . otherwise it will lead to nothing but lifting a rock only to hit its own feet.”

This is the latest bump on the road of Australian-Chinese relations, which have been hit by everything from trade disputes to Australia’s criticism of a lack of Chinese transparency in dealing with the novel coronavirus.

Australia’s government seems well aware of the risks of the latest move — warning its citizens against travel to Hong Kong, saying Australians visiting the city “may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds.”

And it’s not just tourists, Reuters reports that roughly 100,000 Australians currently live and work in Hong Kong.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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