'Extremely concerned': Trudeau suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong
OTTAWA -- Canada is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and taking other steps to treat the region in the same manner as mainland China in light of new national security legislation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday.
"After studying the legislation and its impact, Canada will treat exports of sensitive goods to Hong Kong in the same way as those destined for mainland China," Trudeau said, speaking from an Outaouais food bank.
He added that the government will not permit the export of sensitive military items to the region.
"We are also suspending the Canada-Hong Kong extradition treaty, and updating our travel advisory for Hong Kong," Trudeau said.
The announcement came after the controversial national security law was promulgated in Hong Kong late Tuesday, bypassing the local legislature. Protesters have marched in the streets of Hong Kong to oppose the legislation, which many believe will stop pro-democracy political activity and mute criticism in civil society — effectively crushing the one country, two systems agreement.
The system set out Hong Kong's economic and administrative independence from China after it was no longer a British colony.
"Canada is a firm believer in the one country, two system framework. We will continue to support the many connections between Canada and Hong Kong, while also standing up for its people," Trudeau said.
He also noted that Canada is considering taking other action too.
"In the days and weeks to come, we're also looking at additional measures including around immigration," Trudeau said.
The hint comes one month after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared in an op-ed that his country would be willing to open the door to almost three million Hong Kong citizens.
In his op-ed, published in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, Johnson wrote that the proposed national security law would "curtail [Hong Kong's] freedoms and dramatically erode its autonomy."
"If China proceeds, this would be in direct conflict with its obligations under the Joint Declaration, a legally binding treaty registered with the United Nations," Johnson wrote.
"Britain would then have no choice but to uphold our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong."
Johnson continued, explaining that 350,000 people in Hong Kong hold British National Overseas passports and another 2.5 million are eligible to apply. He said Britain would welcome all those individuals, and expand the duration during which they’re allowed to stay in the United Kingdom with no visa.
On Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that his country was considering offering a safe haven to Hong Kong residents.
"When we have made a final decision on those arrangements, then I'll make the announcements," Morrison told reporters, according to The Associated Press. "But if you're asking: are we prepared to step up and provide support? The answer is: yes."
Meanwhile, Canada is already embroiled in a fractious relationship with China.
Tensions between the two countries plunged into a deep freeze following Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's arrest in December 2018. Canadian authorities arrested Meng in Vancouver after the United States requested her extradition.
The arrest infuriated China, which subsequently arrested and has now charged Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig with espionage in what the Canadian government has described as retaliation — though China insists otherwise. China also briefly banned the import of Canadian beef and pork, blaming it on a banned animal feed additive they claim was found in a shipment of Canadian pork.
A recent B.C. Supreme Court decision made against Meng's legal team incensed the Chinese even further. State-run media declared Canada a "pathetic clown" and many experts are now saying that Canada should be bracing for further retaliation.
During his remarks on Friday, Trudeau signalled his government could get tougher in the future.
"We're extremely concerned about the situation in Hong Kong. We will continue to look at responses, working closely with our allies including our five eyes allies who’ve made very strong statements in regards to the decision by the Chinese government to move forward and weaken the one country, two systems principle that is so important not just to us, but to the 300,000 Canadians who live in Hong Kong and to the millions of people who live in Hong Kong," Trudeau said.
"That's why we’re going to continue to look at steps we can take to ensure the safety of its citizens."