Focus: GS-II International relations
Why in news?
China announced the suspension of Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain in a tit-for-tat move following similar decisions by those countries over a controversial new security law.
- Western nations have angered Beijing over their responses to the law imposed on Hong Kong which they see as an erosion of the civil liberties and human rights the city has enjoyed since its handover from Britain in 1997.
- Canada, Britain and Australia are part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance. The other members are New Zealand, which suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong earlier on Tuesday, and the United States, which has signalled it is preparing to do the same.
- China has accused the countries of interfering in its internal affairs and defended the security law as crucial to restore order in Hong Kong following a wave of pro-democracy protests marred by violence.
- China accused the countries of having used the national security law as “an excuse to unilaterally announce the suspension of extradition treaties” with Hong Kong.
- London and Canberra have also angered Beijing by offering pathways to citizenship or residency to Hong Kong citizens looking to leave because of the new law.
Background: Hong Kong Security Law and Impact
- China on introduced the draft of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong in its parliament to tighten Beijing’s control over Hong Kong, the former British colony.
- This could be the biggest blow to the territory’s autonomy and personal freedoms since 1997 when it came under Chinese rule.
- Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
- It has observed a “one country, two systems” policy since Britain returned sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms the rest of China does not have.
- The demarche said since the return of Hong Kong to China 23 years ago, the Hong Kong SAR has not acted out its constitutional duty for national security in line with China’s Constitution and the Basic Law.
- While the seven-month-long agitation last year in which millions took part subsided during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis from January to April, protesters returned to streets this month, with the pro-autonomy and pro-freedom legislators grappling with the security officials in local legislature protesting against the curbs.
Special Status of Hong Kong
- Since the return to China in 1997, Hong Kong has been governed by the Basic Law, which allows the territory “to enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication”, barring matters of defence and foreign affairs.
- The Basic Law requires Hong Kong to pass national security legislation, but past attempts to do so were shelved when the moves triggered wide protests.
- The law will also for the first time allow China’s national security organs to formally operate in Hong Kong. Pa
-Source: The Hindu