Australia, US, UK….you are not alone. New Zealand’s relations with China are also sinking faster than an open-topped submarine in a hurricane.
In a tit-for-tat move following NZ Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters’s announcement last week that the country would be suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, China declared on Monday that it is looking at suspending its extradition agreement with New Zealand.
According to a report by news agency Reuters, the spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, confirmed this at a daily briefing in Beijing.
Longer-term implications are still unclear
Quite what this will mean in practical terms has yet to be fully quantified. However, it is likely it is another step in a slow escalation of tensions that will soon match the frosty diplomatic relations that Beijing now has with many Western nations following its crackdown in Hong Kong.
The New Zealand Herald is reporting that the two countries do not have a specific extradition treaty in place, which means there is no obligation to extradite. However, there is a discretionary process for ad hoc requests.
NZ’s treaty decision in line with others nations
The New Zealand decision on its Hong Kong extradition treaty is on line with that made by several other nations recently, as they feel that the accepted rule of law is no longer in place and China may seek to use such agreements to prosecute political dissidents.
On July 28, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the new national security legislation enacted in Hong Kong by the Chinese government does not sit well with New Zealand’s principles.
Among those principles are “basic freedom of association and the right to take a political view”, she explained at the time.
Foreign Minister discusses possible repercussions
The Foreign Minister was asked last week in a radio interview about the potential repercussions from China.
“There are 1.4 billion people in China who are desperate for our supplies … There is every reason for the regime to be mindful of that,” he said on Newstalk ZB.
He added that if there were to be repercussions, then New Zealand would maintain its belief in law and democracy.