Foreign Minister Winston Peters today re-iterated the New Zealand Government's "deep concern" over security legislation introduced in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, the bill now approved by China.
It comes as China's ceremonial legislature today endorsed a national security law for Hong Kong that has strained relations with the United States and Britain.
“Direct imposition of national security legislation by the Beijing authorities, rather than through Hong Kong’s own institutions, curtails the liberties of the Hong Kong people and erodes Hong Kong’s autonomy," Mr Peters said.
The Hong Kong security law will alter the territory's mini-constitution, or Basic Law, to require its government to enforce measures to be decided later by Chinese leaders.
Mr Peters said: “New Zealand is concerned at the impact the new legislation could have on important rights and freedoms enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law ... including freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest."
He added: “New Zealand has a strong interest in seeing confidence maintained in the ‘one country, two systems’ framework under which Hong Kong is assured of a high degree of autonomy.
“We are also concerned that this action will exacerbate the divisions within Hong Kong society rather than foster reconciliation and trust."
The measure and the way it is being enacted prompted Washington to announce it no longer will treat Hong Kong as being autonomous from Beijing.
The National People's Congress approved the bill as it wrapped up an annual session that was held under intensive anti-coronavirus controls.
Activists in Hong Kong have complained the law will undermine civil liberties and might be used to suppress political activity.
The legislature also approved a government budget that will increase spending to generate jobs in an effort to reverse an economic slump after Chinese industries were shut down to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Peters said New Zealand "will continue to monitor the situation closely".