Hong Kong pro-democracy group travels to Taiwan to discuss fugitive extradition proposal, risking wrath from Beijing

Jeffie Lam
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Hong Kong pro-democracy group travels to Taiwan to discuss fugitive extradition proposal, risking wrath from Beijing

Pro-democracy politicians and activists who oppose a Hong Kong government proposal for a fugitive extradition agreement with mainland China, Taiwan and Macau have taken their campaign to Taipei in a move bound to provoke Beijing.

Members of the group began to arrive on Tuesday, after a Taiwanese official said the government would not sign any extradition deal with Hong Kong that would have implications for the one-China principle, under which both Beijing and Taipei claim to be the legitimate government of China.

Taipei won’t sign any extradition deal with Hong Kong if it implies Taiwan is part of China, official says

The Security Bureau had argued the amendment was designed to plug legal loopholes exposed last year when Taiwanese authorities were unable to extradite a Hongkonger accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taipei before fleeing back home.

The new extradition proposal – slammed by the pan-democrats as a security threat to everyone in the city – would allow the reciprocal transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions where Hong Kong lacks an extradition treaty, including Macau, Taiwan and mainland China, on a case-by-case basis.

“We know there are worries some Taiwanese would be extradited to the mainland through Hong Kong,” said James To Kun-sun, a Democratic Party veteran who in 1997 chaired the committee on the Fugitive Offenders Bill, which the government now seeks to amend.

Hongkonger, 19, killed girlfriend then stuffed her body in a suitcase, Taiwan police allege

To planned to travel to Taipei with lawmakers Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and former legislator Nathan Law Kwun-chung. He said comparing notes with Taiwanese counterparts was important.

“We want to listen to their views and to see whether we share the same concerns,” he said.

Law, of Demosisto, slammed city officials for pushing ahead with the controversial amendments that would cover mainland China, instead of working with Taipei to reach a mutual legal assistance agreement.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the secretary general of Demosisto and Occupy student leader, said he was not concerned about potential criticism of the pro-democracy camp’s Taipei trip from political opponents.

“We are meeting the Taiwanese parties across the spectrum, and we are only taking the matter on its merits,” he said. “The amendment is such an important matter that it requires discussion between the governments. Yet the Hong Kong administration has refused to do so.”

Members of the pro-democracy group said they would use their time in Taiwan to hear the views of government officials and lawmakers, including from the opposition Kuomintang, the Democratic Progressive Party and the youth-led New Power Party.

Huang Ting-hui, who handles the island’s affairs concerning Hong Kong, Macau, Inner Mongolia and Tibet at the Mainland Affairs Council, had stressed that any act aimed at “destroying the national sovereignty” of Taiwan would not be acceptable.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said on Tuesday the Hong Kong government had been in contact with Taipei since it requested the extradition of the murder suspect last year.

“We will be handling [the case] with mutual respect to make sure the fugitive, and other people who had committed serious crimes, would face justice,” Lee said.

Why are there no extradition deals with mainland China, Taiwan and Macau?

“I trust that our two sides would work on the case, based on the merits of the case, to ensure that justice is done.”

The Hong Kong Bar Association had slammed the government amendment as too loose and lacking appropriate safeguards. The group suggested that Hong Kong courts should be allowed to rule on murder cases in which residents of the city were suspects or victims.

Lee said he was open to any opinion on the extradition proposal but stressed it was important to handle the murder case and fix the existing system.

A Security Bureau spokesman said the agency received more than 4,000 views on the proposed amendment before the period for public submissions closed on Monday.

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