Sun, May 05, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Extradition law could hurt Hong Kong: MAC

Reuters, TAIPEI

Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng speaks at a news conference at the council’s offices in Taipei in an undated photograph.

Photo: Chung Li-hua, Taipei Times

Hong Kong’s push for an extradition law with Beijing could further undermine the territory’s freedoms and rule of law and instil a climate of fear, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said on Friday.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, is trying to enact rules that would allow people accused of a crime, including foreigners, to be sent to China for trial.

Opponents of the proposal fear further erosion of rights and legal protections in the free-wheeling financial hub — freedoms that were guaranteed on the territory’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) has said that there is a need for arrangements to extradite offenders to China and Taiwan, and other countries that do not have extradition treaties with the territory.

The case of Hong Konger Chan Tong-kai (陳同佳), 20, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend in Taiwan last year before fleeing back to the territory, has been used as an example.

However, Chiu said there is no need for an extradition law.

“It’s very possible that after this [extradition] law, everyone will live in fear,” Chiu said.

He urged the Hong Kong government to heed snowballing public concerns, including those of more than 100,000 people who took to the streets last weekend demanding the proposed laws be scrapped.

Chiu’s comments are perhaps the strongest yet by a foreign official toward the legislation.

There was no immediate response from the Office of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong to his remarks.

The law is seen as a test of the autonomy of Hong Kong, which is ruled under a so-called “one country, two systems” formula that China has also proposed for Taiwan.

The extradition rules come as critics say freedoms have been corroded by Chinese Communist Party leaders after a British journalist was expelled, democratic activists were jailed and barred from contesting local elections, and opposition lawmakers were disqualified from public office.

“Beijing is trying to control Hong Kong completely, and to attack Hong Kong’s democracy and freedoms, so we feel the result is to make people pessimistic about the future,” Chiu said.

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