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Winston Peters defends Kiwis' right to protest for Hong Kong independence

Risking a further rebuke from China, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters has defended Kiwis' right to protest for Hong Kong independence.

Source: 1 NEWS

This week, New Zealand joined a chorus of criticism of the new "security law" enacted by China which erodes the city-state's autonomy.

The laws threaten star chamber trials and curtails on media, as well as huge punishments for protest actions. Crucially, Beijing maintains the law will apply to non-Hong Kongers outside Hong Kong.

Mr Peters said New Zealand was deeply disappointed at the law's passage, and claimed the government "consistently emphasised its serious concern about the imposition of this legislation on Hong Kong without inclusive consultation".

On Thursday, the Chinese Embassy issued a pointed statement saying "legislation for safeguarding national security in (Hong Kong) is purely China's internal affair".

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"We urge the New Zealand side to respect China's sovereignty, abide by international laws and basic norms of international relations, stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs, and do more to promote the sound and steady development of the China-New Zealand relations," an embassy statement read.

Mr Peters, 75, was present at the 1997 handover ceremony between the United Kingdom and China, when the UK's lease on the influential port city expired and China took over governance, promising "one country, two systems".

The deputy prime minister said New Zealand "was not interfering in anybody's affairs" but asked China respect its "one country, two systems" pledge.

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New Zealand is joining international condemnation of the legislation, described as the end of Hong Kong as we know it. Source: 1 NEWS

He then served up China's own argument back to the superpower, suggesting what Kiwis chose to say and believe in was their own business.

"That's going to be an alarming development that people in a country like New Zealand think that somehow their freedom is being constrained even though they're not even in that place," he said.

"We have always asked people and advised people to fight for their freedom." Mr Peters has a history of incendiary talk about China.

He has used the anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre to attack the lack of freedoms in China.

In May, he told the Chinese Ambassador to NZ to "listen to her master" amid an international push to restore Taiwan to the World Health Organisation's Assembly.