Australia suspends extradition with Hong Kong, offers citizenship path for residents

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison
Emeh Joy

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday that Australia has suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong as the country moves towards offering a path to citizenship for those Hong Kongers residing in the city who wish to leave.

Morrison who spoke at a press briefing in Canberra, said that China's new national security legislation for Hong Kong constitutes a "fundamental change in our circumstance with respect to our extradition agreement with Hong Kong."

He said, "We have formally notified Hong Kong and advised the Chinese authorities".

The Prime Minister said Australia had updated its travel advisory for Hong Kong while warning Australian citizens of the possibility of getting detained in the city under the "vague" law.

He further announced a pathway to permanent residency in Australia for Hong Kong citizens who seek to leave the city due to imposition of the law.

"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 and their business and the things that they have been running under the previous set of rules and arrangement in Hong Kong", Morrison said.

He said students or skilled visa holders From Hong Kong would be given five years on their visa with a pathway to permanent residency. He also added that the same would be done for future students or skilled visa immigrants.

Morrison also encouraged Hong Kong-based businesses to relocate to Australia, adding that about 10,000 Hong Kongers are currently residing in Australia. He, however, said he doesn't expect large numbers of applications for new visas in the short term.

The United Kingdom had previously said that it would provide a path to citizenship for up to three million Hong KKongers, those born before the city's handover to the Chinese in the late 1990s and are thus, eligible for British National Overseas passports.

Taiwan too said it would welcome Hong Kongers who wish to leave the city, though the Island is not likely to take a large number of residents and is not signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention.

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