Germany suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong after HK authorities disqualify 12 pro-democracy candidates from standing for legislative elections; China condemns the move
Germany yesterday joined the ranks with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States to unilaterally suspend the extradition treaty signed with the Hong Kong government. The U.S., U.K., and other countries had announced the suspension of the Hong Kong extradition treaty after the Chinese President Xi Jinping signed in a new Hong Kong national security law on the night of 30th June 2020. The law gives unbridled powers to the China-backed Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and allows authorities to extradite Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors to Mainland China to face life imprisonment.
Germany had so far maintained a diplomatic status-quo with China as far as Hong Kong was concerned. However, all that changed when Lam disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates from contesting in the Hong Kong legislative elections and subsequently decided to postpone the elections. Germany took an objection to these strong-arm tactics by Hong Kong government and announced the suspension of the extradition treaty with the island. Lam cited a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory as the reason for postponing the elections but protestors say that this is false.
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas described the election decisions as “a further infringement of the rights of Hong Kong’s citizens,” and announced that Germany was unilaterally suspending the existing extradition treaty with the Government of Hong Kong.
The Chinese Embassy in Berlin expressed “strong indignation and firm opposition to the wrong remarks of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas” in a statement posted on its website and dated Friday. The embassy said the actions were justified and consistent with the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed over to Chinese control in 1997.
“The German side’s erroneous remarks on Hong Kong and the suspension of the extradition treaty with Hong Kong are a serious breach of international law and basic norms governing international relations and gross violation of China’s internal affairs”, the embassy said.
Germany’s suspension of the extradition treaty is very significant as Germany currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency and other European Union countries may follow suit.