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Saturday, July 11, 2020

July 11, 2020
Zhao Lijian warned Australia to stop interfering in China's affairs (Image: GETTY via

CHINA has warned it will "take action" against Australia after the country announced it will offer visas to some Hong Kong residents and has suspended its extradition treaty with the city following the new state security law imposed on it.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned Australia to stop interfering in China's affairs. He told a daily briefing: "We reserve the right to take actions and all consequences will be borne by the Australian side." When asked which international law Australia is in breach of, he said: “Non-interference is a basic norm in international relations. Need I say more?”

China said it also deplored and opposes what it called "groundless accusations and measures" by the Australian Government on Hong Kong.

The Chinese embassy in Australia said in a statement attributed to an unnamed spokesman: "We urge the Australian side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs under any pretext or in any way.

"Otherwise it will lead to nothing but lifting a rock only to hit its own feet."

Australia had said it was suspending the extradition treaty it has in place with Hong Kong, while also announcing measures to attract residents and businesses from there.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "There will be citizens of Hong Kong who may be looking to move elsewhere, to start a new life somewhere else, to take their skills, their businesses."

The Australian Government has said there are around 10,000 Hong Kong citizens in the country on student visas or temporary work visas.

Mr Morrison said Hong Kong students, graduates and workers in Australia on temporary visas will be provided with a temporary opportunity to stay and work in Australia for an additional five years, and can then apply for permanent residency after that time.

On the subject of future student visas being offered for a further five years, the Australian Prime Minister said they were "not expecting large numbers of applicants any time soon".

Hong Kong applicants would be prioritised under Australia's Global Talent Scheme and business visa programme.

Alan Tudge, Australia's acting Immigration Minister, said: "There is so much talent in Hong Kong.

"There are great businesses in Hong Kong. And we know that many individuals now might be looking elsewhere, because they do want to be in a freer country, they want to be in a democratic country."

Australia would welcome international financial services, consulting and media businesses with regional headquarters in Hong Kong relocating to the country.

Mr Morrison said: "If there are businesses that wish to relocate to Australia, creating jobs, bringing investment, creating opportunities for Australia then we will be very proactive in seeking to encourage that."

The Primer Minister added the newly-announced measures would be accommodated within Australia's existing existing caps on permanent resident visas.

He also said Hong Kong citizens will be able to apply to the humanitarian and refugee visa programme.

Australia has already changed its travel advice for Hong Kong, which is home to around 100,000 Australians, urging them to reconsider moving from Hong Kong if they are becoming concerned about the introduction of the new security law from China.

The controversial new law punishes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne also discussed Hong Kong and the new security law in an overnight teleconference with her counterparts in the Five Eyes security arrangement, which includes the UK, US, New Zealand and Canada.

New Zealand is also reviewing its relationship with Hong Kong following the introduction of the security law from China, which would include a review of the extradition arrangements, controls on exports of strategic goods and travel advice.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said: "New Zealand remains deeply concerned at the imposition of this legislation on Hong Kong. We will continue to monitor the law's impact on the people of Hong Kong, with whom we share close links."

The latest moves from the Southern Hemisphere countries comes after Canada last week said it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and would consider boosting immigration from there.

The latest moves from the Southern Hemisphere countries comes after Canada last week said it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and would consider boosting immigration from there.

But as with Australia, Beijing's Ambassador Cong Peiwu also warned Canada to stop "interfering in China's internal affairs"

The warning came after the Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned the actions of the Canadian Government, said Beijing "reserved the right to further react" and warned Canada would "bear the consequences".


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