TORONTO: China on Saturday accused Canada of meddling after Ottawa said it was suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong to protest a tough new national security law imposed there by Beijing.
In a statement published on the website of the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, a spokesperson denounced what he said were Canada’s “unwarranted comments” on the new law, saying Canadian leaders had “grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs”.
“Some Western countries including Canada have been meddling in Hong Kong affairs under the pretext of human rights, which seriously violates international law and basic norms of international relations,” the statement said, adding that such efforts were “doomed to fail”.
It claimed that the new law would “ensure social order… and benefit Hong Kong citizens and international investors”.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that his country was “extremely concerned” about the situation in Hong Kong under the new law, and would examine measures to “ensure the safety of its citizens”, as well as of the 300,000 Canadians living there.
Canada also said it was suspending exports of sensitive military materials to Hong Kong.
The Chinese legislation, enacted after a year of mass protests in Hong Kong, outlaws acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces.
But critics say the law will be used to repress protest and dissent.
Police in the former British colony have already begun arresting people for possessing protest flags and banners. The government in Hong Kong has made clear that certain political views, especially calls for independence, are now outlawed.
Trudeau said Friday that “Canada is a firm believer in the ‘one country, two systems’ framework, the model adopted after Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 and which was supposed to have guaranteed Hong Kong people, until 2047, with rights unknown elsewhere in China.
Chinese-Canadian relations have been strained since the arrest in Canada in December 2018 of Meng Wanzhou, an executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on an arrest warrant from the US, which accuses her of violating sanctions against Iran.
China subsequently arrested two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – on espionage charges, which they and Ottawa have sharply denied.