Sat, May 18, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Pompeo expresses concerns over HK extradition law

AFP, WASHINGTON

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday voiced concern over Hong Kong’s plans to allow extraditions to China as he met with the territory’s pre-eminent pro-democracy leader.

The top US diplomat discussed the controversial extradition bill in talks in Washington with a delegation headed by Martin Lee (李柱銘), a founder of Hong Kong’s opposition Democratic Party.

Pompeo “expressed concern about the Hong Kong government’s proposed amendments to the Fugitive Ordinance law, which threaten Hong Kong’s rule of law,” US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement after the meeting.

“He also expressed support for Hong Kong’s long-standing protections of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values, which are guaranteed under the Basic Law,” she said, referring to the territory’s mini-constitution.

The extradition plan has led to scuffles inside Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, with critics saying that it would mark a significant blow to the territory’s semi-autonomous status and make it less attractive to foreign investors.

Hong Kong’s government is pushing the bill that would allow case-by-case extraditions to any jurisdictions with which it does not already have an agreed treaty — including China, Macau and Taiwan.

Historically, Hong Kong has balked at Chinese extraditions because of the opacity of China’s criminal justice system and its liberal use of the death penalty.

In 2014, China voiced anger after then-US vice president Joe Biden met Lee and reiterated the US’ “long-standing support for democracy in Hong Kong.”

In an opinion piece this week in the Washington Post, Lee warned that the extradition law could make Americans and other foreigners “potential hostages to extradition claims driven by the political agenda of Beijing.”

“The time for the world to act to protect Hong Kong’s free society and legal system is now — not when Hong Kong people and others are taken to be jailed in China,” he wrote.

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