The Hong Kong government’s proposal to amend its extradition rules was not targeted at Taiwan and covers other places, too, Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee (李家超) said in an interview broadcast yesterday.
Lee made the remarks after some Taiwanese politicians said the revision was politically motivated and questioned the plan to allow the surrender of fugitives to any jurisdiction with which the territory has not entered into a bilateral extradition agreement, including Taiwan, Macau and China.
Lee said that the proposed changes would not only cover cases involving Taiwanese, but would apply to jurisdictions that do not have an agreement with Hong Kong on handing over fugitives.
Taiwanese officials said that the proposal was based on Beijing’s “one China” principle, under which China defines Taiwan as part of its territory.
Although Taiwan has been seeking mutual judicial assistance agreements, including with Hong Kong, the government would not accept an extradition agreement that erodes the nation’s dignity and sovereignty, said Liu Yi-chun (劉怡君), a prosecutor at the Ministry of Justice’s Department of International and Cross-Strait Legal Affairs.
New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said that if the amendment were passed, China would treat Taiwan as part of its jurisdiction and more than 2 million Taiwanese who work and study in Hong Kong could face the same fate as Lee Ming-che (李明哲), a Taiwanese rights advocate who was detained in China.
In 2017 Lee was sentenced in China to five years in prison for subversion of state power, making him the first Taiwanese to be convicted of the offense.
Hong Kong’s Security Bureau on Feb. 12 submitted a proposal to the Hong Kong Legislative Council that rules on extradition be amended to facilitate two-way cooperation with countries or areas with which the territory has not inked extradition treaties.
The proposal was motivated by a case in which a Hong Kong woman was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend in Taiwan, the bureau said.
As Hong Kong does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan, it cannot send the suspect to be prosecuted and stand trial in Taiwan, which has jurisdiction over the case.
As a result, the Hong Kong government proposed legislative revisions that would enable it to negotiate agreements with Taiwan and China on the extradition of fugitives on a case-by-case basis.
The proposal elicited mixed reactions in Hong Kong.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong expressed its support, saying that public concern remains high over the murder case and the inability to prosecute the suspect without a formal extradition arrangement.
Democratic Party Legislator James To (涂謹申) voiced opposition to the proposal, citing concern that the Hong Kong government could abuse the amended legislation by granting Chinese government requests to extradite Hong Kongers to China.
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