Is the US encouraging murderers and rapists to hide in Hong Kong by suspending extradition treaty?
- Yonden Lhatoo says the Trump administration has not only cut off the city’s nose to spite China’s face, it has also shot itself in the foot by killing a reciprocal deal that allowed the transfer of fugitive offenders
For all the magnanimity, nobility and divine right theory it preaches as it goes about unilaterally righting the world’s wrongs, the United States can be astonishingly bloody minded and ridiculously petty.
This was essentially state-sanctioned doxxing, and a manifestation of the mean, small-minded, schoolyard level of pettiness that is a hallmark of US President Donald Trump’s personal style, now being adopted wholesale by his administration in conducting international relations.
The usual bungling that is another trademark of the Trump administration was also on full display in getting Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s residential address wrong in the doxxing list. Lam mockingly likened it to how US authorities messed up Edward Snowden’s middle name in official documents, a discrepancy that Hong Kong cited as an excuse for not complying with Washington’s demands for his extradition when the former CIA analyst-turned-whistle-blower was hiding in the city back in 2013.
As the Trump administration brings out its many knives, sharp or blunt, to cut off Hong Kong’s nose just to spite China’s face, such is the zeal driving this unholy crusade against Beijing that it’s quite content to shoot itself in the foot during the process, pardon the mixed metaphors.
Take, for example, the suspension this week of Washington’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong that allowed the surrender of fugitive offenders between the two jurisdictions, based on the principle of mutual assistance and reciprocity.
The fact is, the US itself has made maximum use of this arrangement – since the deal was struck in 1998, Hong Kong has handed over a total of 69 offenders at Washington’s request, while only 23 have been sent across from the other side.
Also, keep in mind that many of these people were accused of serious crimes such as murder, rape, fraud and drug trafficking. What the Trump administration is effectively saying, in the name of protecting Hongkongers’ democratic rights and freedoms, is that it’s OK for the city to become a safe haven for such criminals seeking to evade justice.
That was not how it played out, unfortunately, and he was spirited off to Moscow instead. But think about it – if he were ever to seek refuge in this city again, he would no longer have to face the threat of extradition, all thanks to his own government.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post