US suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong over national security law

The United States government has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong over concerns about its controversial national security law, that it says is eroding the city's autonomy.

The US State Department said the security law had "crushed the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong".

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the US State Department announced Washington would be suspending or eliminating three treaties with the former British colony, including "the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of sentenced persons, and reciprocal tax exemptions on income."

Last month President Donald Trump also ended Hong Kong's preferential trade and diplomatic status with the US.

The move was expected as the US imposed a raft of punitive measures in the wake of the new law.

The Hong Kong government later responded saying it "strongly objects to and deplores" the action by the US "which is widely seen as a move to create troubles in China-US relationship, using Hong Kong as a pawn".

Since its handover from Britain to China in 1997, Hong Kong has enjoyed a special trade and security status with the United States, predicated on the financial hub's high degree of autonomy from Beijing.

In late June, following months of widespread pro-democracy protests and calls for greater autonomy within the city, the Chinese government imposed a strict new national security law on Hong Kong, criminalising secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.

The US sees the security law as a threat to the freedoms Hong Kong was guaranteed under the handover agreement.

Critics, including the US government, contend that the new law has a had major chilling effect on the city's civil liberties and deeply undermines freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The US is the latest country to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong following the passage of the new security law. Canada, Australia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom have all put their extradition agreements with the city on hold since the law was passed.