By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) – China on Thursday announced it suspended a judicial cooperation treaty between Hong Kong and the US.
Addressing a news conference in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said: "China has decided to suspend the judicial assistance treaty between Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the US."
The move came after Washington expressed its intention to suspend three bilateral agreements with Hong Kong.
"We urge the US side to correct its erroneous decision and stop interfering in China's internal affairs," said Zhao, according to China's CGTN network.
Earlier on Thursday, Hong Kong strongly condemned the US move to end three bilateral agreements with the city government.
"As part of the so-called 'ongoing implementation measures' following the US President's executive order issued on July 14, the US Department of State announced yesterday the suspension or termination of three bilateral agreements signed between the Hong Kong government and the US government, namely the Agreement on the Surrender of Fugitive Offenders (SFO), the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (TSP) Agreement and the Agreement concerning Tax Exemptions from the Income Derived from the International Operation of Ship," said a statement by the Hong Kong government.
The US has been at loggerheads with China because of its policies in Hong Kong, particularly its decision to apply a controversial national security law to the autonomous territory that critics say is intended to quash dissent.
On June 30, China's National People's Congress unanimously passed a new security law that was promulgated in Hong Kong on July 1 to tighten security in the city. It has drawn criticism within Hong Kong and in the international community, which Beijing has dismissed as "foreign intervention."
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous region that has been part of China since 1997, when the UK handed over the former colony to Beijing.
Since last year, it has witnessed widespread protests sparked by a move to legalize extradition of people to mainland China.