Australia suspends extradition with Hong Kong, offers citizenship options

Australia also plans to recruit entire companies from Hong Kong

Scott Morrison Scott Morrison | Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a way for Hong Kongers to start a new life in Australia by extending visas for five years.

This allows students to extend their stay in the country, while they apply for a permanent visa. The announcement comes nine days after Beijing announced the imposition of a new national security law on the city.

PM Morrison also suspended Australia’s extradition agreement with Hong Kong, as, according to the new security law, suspects in Hong Kong can be sent to the mainland for trial.

Morrison added that the new national security law introduced last week in Hong Kong was a fundamental change of circumstances. As per the new security law, anyone who challenges the authorities displays pro-democratic sentiments or forms collusion with foreign forces can be tried for subversion or terrorism and can face up to a lifetime prison sentence.

Australia also plans to recruit entire companies from Hong Kong and offer up to 10,000 students and workers visas. Hong Kongers, who are on temporary work visas in Australia also have the option to extend their visas for five years and apply for a permanent visa in the meantime. 

This has led to more tensions between Australia and China. "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," a spokesperson from the Chinese Embassy in Australia said.

Currently, there are 10,000 Hong Kong citizens in Australia on student visas or temporary work visas.

Australia also announced that it would offer incentives and visa packages to international corporations that offered financial services, consulting and media houses to set up headquarters in Australia.

 The new law has pushed China's freest city onto a more authoritarian path and drawn condemnation from some Western governments, lawyers and rights groups.

 Last week, Canada announced it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in the wake of the security legislation and could boost immigration from the former British colony.