China has lodged "grave concern" with New Zealand after Jacinda Ardern's government moved to pause its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
On Wednesday, New Zealand followed in the footsteps of allies Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as fellow Five Eyes intelligence partners USA and Canada in stopping extraditions.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the passage of China's controversial national security legislation had eroded the rule of law in the territory and "deeply concerned" New Zealand.
"New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong's criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China," Mr Peters said on Tuesday.
"If China in future shows adherence to the 'one country, two systems' framework then we could reconsider this decision."
Ms Ardern said the national security laws, which give China overarching controls over freedom of association and freedom of speech in Hong Kong, "didn't sit well with New Zealand's principles".
"We would not wish to see anyone potentially up for extradition," she said.
Asked whether New Zealand would see pushback as a result, Ms Ardern said New Zealand had "a mature relationship with China".
"We take the same approach to our relationship we always have. We've been very consistent. We'll be open where there are areas where we have to adjust our position," she said.
"This is a clear one for us based on New Zealand's principles."
Within hours, the Chinese Embassy in Wellington issued a scathing response to the decision, labelling it a "serious violation of international law".
"The Chinese side has lodged its grave concern and strong opposition," the statement read.
"Any attempt to pressure China on the issue of Hong Kong will not succeed.
The Chinese side urges the New Zealand side to ... immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs in any forms to avoid further harm to China-New Zealand relations."
Mr Peters said New Zealand was reviewing its overall relationship with the former British-controlled territory.
New Zealand has also updated its travel advice for Hong Kong, though due to COVID-19 the government is currently asking Kiwis not to travel overseas and to safely shelter in place wherever they are in the world.
Beijing also severely rebuked Wellington earlier this year after Ms Ardern's government gave support to a push for Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly.