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Australia's voice should be heard loud and clear in Hong Kong

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Violence erupted as thousands of Hong Kong residents joined large-scale street occupations on Wednesday, in protest against proposed laws that would allow extraditions to mainland China. Police escalated tensions and further alienated people with their disproportionate and indiscriminate use of beanbag rounds, rubber bullets, tear gas and batons against protesters, as well as journalists, to clear the streets.

A protester gestures after clashes with riot police during a massive demonstration outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Credit:AP

This followed the largest ever march in Hong Kong on June 9, when more than a million people rallied. Across Australia, too, supporters of Hong Kong's freedom gathered in protest.

However, since the extradition proposals were announced by Hong Kong authorities in mid-February, the public response from the Australian government has been cautious and out of step with our like-minded nations. Australia has failed to live up to our foreign policy values.

The extradition measures affect not only Hong Kong residents. They will create the possibility for any Australian, once they step foot in Hong Kong, to be extradited to a jurisdiction with weak human rights protections, including China.

Hong Kong’s extradition laws in many ways mirror Australia’s extradition legislation. However, when........

© The Age