As Canada did last week, Australia is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong because of the draconian National Security Act imposed by China, which is already curtailing the freedoms enjoyed by this former British colony.
The Canberra government has taken this decision because of the “imprecision and excessive breadth” of its offences, which can lead to “arbitrary detention” as the UN Human Rights Office has denounced. “This is a fundamental change of circumstances with respect to our extradition treaty and we have already formally notified the authorities in Hong Kong and China,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday.
It will also extend from two to five years the study and temporary visas now held by some 10,000 Hong Kongers living in Australia, opening the way for them to obtain a residence permit if they wish to emigrate, or rather go into exile. Canberra is following the path of the United Kingdom, which will offer citizenship to the three million Hong Kongers with British overseas passports (BNO). “There will be citizens who may be looking to move somewhere, to start a new life by taking their skills, businesses and other things they had under the previous set of laws and regulations in Hong Kong,” said Morrison, who noted that “Australia has always been a very welcoming country for these kinds of people from all over the world.
According to the South China Morning Post, this is the largest migrant hosting offer since Prime Minister Bob Hawke allowed 27,000 Chinese students to enter after the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. More than a “humanitarian corridor”, this time Australia wants to attract Hong Kongers with businesses that can benefit from the visa program