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NZ won't be intimidated by China's 'megaphone diplomacy' over Hong Kong - Winston Peters

Foreign Minister Winston Peters isn't worried about the Chinese government punishing New Zealand for cancelling its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

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Winston Peters isn’t concerned about backlash from China after scrapping the extradition treaty. Source: Breakfast

Yesterday, China's ambassador to New Zealand accused the Government of interfering in China's "internal affairs", with a spokesperson telling 1 NEWS: "Hong Kong affairs are entirely China's internal affairs, and allow no foreign interference."

Today, Mr Peters said the "megaphone diplomacy" has an "unusual twist to it".

"In many ways, that's what we're saying [too]," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"You have a commitment, you made an arrangement, we were all there to witness it in 1997. All we're asking you to do is to live up to it."

In 1997, the Hong Kong territory was given back to China from the UK under the 'one country, two systems' policy, which would grant Hong Kong a high level of autonomy from China for 50 years. Mr Peters was New Zealand's representative at the handover.

"What we're saying is, we want you to live up to it, and if you do, when you do that, we'll review our decision," he says.

Mr Peters says as a democracy, New Zealand is in charge of its own foreign policies and won't be pressured by China.

"We're a country with an independent stance. The people of this country are the people in control of our foreign policy, not some other country or some other elite operation," he says.

"In that context, the government of Beijing should understand that."

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Joseph Miller, a PhD candidate in Asian studies at the University of Auckland, anticipates “a lot of bluster” from China. Source: Breakfast

A PhD candidate studying Asian studies at Auckland University agrees, thinking it's unlikely China will seriously retaliate against New Zealand.

"It's unfortunate in their eyes and they'll give a lot of bluster regarding meddling in domestic affairs. There'll be the usual condemnation, but in the end this just isn't going to have a major effect on their choices," Joseph Miller told Breakfast.

Yesterday's announcement from Mr Peters follows similar moves from Canada, Australia and the UK.

New Zealand should "take comfort" that it's in strong company, Mr Miller says.

"China can't afford to isolate and have bad relations with every single one of these actors," he says. 

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NZ suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong, after China passes controversial law

"It very much could seek to punish New Zealand and it has used coercive economic tactics before, but if there's enough countries and New Zealand is one of the pack, there is some safety in the sense that it might not be worth it for China to do this."

The suspension of the extradition treaty comes after China passed a controversial new security law for Hong Kong. 

As a result, New Zealand updated its travel advice for people heading to Hong Kong and changed the export of sensitive goods to Hong Kong, as well as scrapping the extradition treaty.

Yesterday, Mr Peters said New Zealand could "no longer trust" that the criminal justice system in Hong Kong was "sufficiently independent from China".

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The National Party leader says New Zealand's relationship with China is important, but we have to respect the law of freedom of speech. Source: Breakfast

National leader Judith Collins has backed the move, telling Breakfast the party thinks the new rules are "pretty tough".

"Simon Bridges, who's the foreign affairs spokesman, came out yesterday saying, 'Look, we just think we don't want to obviously hurt our trading relationship and good relationship we have with China, but there are certain things that are part of our DNA and one of those is we do respect the rule of law in freedom of speech.' 

"My husband and I were married in Hong Kong. I have particular feelings towards Hong Kong as an incredibly vibrant place."