July 3, 2020 / 3:35 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Canada suspends its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, eyes immigration boost

(Recasts with comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, adds background)

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, July 3 (Reuters) - Canada is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in the wake of new Chinese national security legislation and could take steps to boost immigration, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

China imposed the legislation on the former British colony this week despite protests from Hong Kongers and Western nations, setting what is a major financial hub on a more authoritarian track.

Trudeau said Canada would continue to stand up for Hong Kong, which is home to around 300,000 Canadians.

“Canada will treat exports of sensitive goods to Hong Kong in the same way as those destined for mainland China. Effectively immediately, Canada will not permit the export of sensitive military items to Hong Kong,” Trudeau said.

“We are also suspending the Canada-Hong Kong extradition treaty ... we are also looking at additional measures, including around immigration,” he told reporters. He did not give details.

The new law has prompted a sharp uptick in inquiries from families looking to relocate to Canada, but Ottawa’s strict COVID-19 border control measures are making it nearly impossible to get in, immigration lawyers said.

Possible measures Ottawa could take include favoring Hong Kong residents who already have family in Canada, extending the amount of time people are allowed to stay temporarily and allowing more people to apply for a work program that is a step towards gaining citizenship, lawyers say.

Trudeau spoke after the leaders of Germany and Britain had already expressed their concerns about the new law.

Earlier, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne condemned the “secretive” way the legislation had been enacted and said Canada had been forced to reassess existing arrangements.

Canada and China are locked in a diplomatic dispute which erupted in late 2018 after Canadian police detained Huawei Technologies Co’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on a U.S. warrant. (Additional reporting by Julie Gordon and Steve Scherer in Ottawa Editing by Matthew Lewis and Chizu Nomiyama)

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