Finland has suspended the extradition of suspected criminals to Hong Kong, the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported.
The proposal by Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson to suspend the application of the extradition treaty between Finland and Hong Kong, which is a special administrative region of China, has been approved by President Sauli Niinistö.
The decision is linked to the security laws imposed on Hong Kong by China in July, which Europe sees as a threat to the city's autonomy as such. Among others, the laws grant authorities extensive rights to make arrests on grounds of national security and crack down on crimes such as secessionism, subversion and collusion with foreign nations.
The law was criticised by Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, who suggested that Finland shouldn't apply its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, stressing that it was signed under “entirely different circumstances”.
Haavisto stressed that further extradition could “entail closed trials or, in the worst-case scenario, the threat of the death penalty if the person is moved to mainland China”.
According to Helsingin Sanomat, dozens of people have already been arrested under the law, whereas many opposition members have since fled Hong Kong.
By upending the treaty, Finland is following the trail blazed by countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Beijing responded to the suspension instantly with a terse statement by the Chinese Embassy in Finland.
“The Chinese side urges the Finnish side to abide by the international law and the basic norms governing international relations, stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs in any forms to avoid harms to China-Finland relations,” the embassy said.
Along with Sweden and Denmark, Finland was among the first Western countries to recognise the People's Republic of China and form diplomatic relations with the country in 1950. The two countries have since maintained viable economic cooperation, despite not seeing eye-to-eye on many issues, including the Hong Kong national security law, which Finland openly opposed.