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Pan-democrats (left to right): Lawmaker Raymond Chan, Claudia Mo, Helen Wong, ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung, Alvin Yeung and Shiu Ka-chun. The group met in Mong Kok to announce renewed resistance to the proposed fugitive law. Photo: Winson Wong

Protests planned against proposal to hand fugitives to mainland China as resistance bolstered by Hong Kong’s business-sector lawmakers

  • Pan-democrats announce two demonstrations against the proposal to hand over suspects to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau
  • Group call on citizens to voice opposition to the plan before the period for public submission closes on Monday

Resistance to a Hong Kong government proposal to hand over fugitives to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau has gained momentum, with protests announced and doubts about the plan expressed by pro-business politicians.

The pan-democrats said on Sunday they would stage two demonstrations this month to oppose the proposal, which they said would “pose a huge security threat to everyone in Hong Kong” and damage the city’s judicial system. The group called on citizens to voice their opposition to the plan before the period for public submissions closed on Monday.

A number of pro-establishment lawmakers who represent the business sector also expressed reservations about the plan. Several critics said they feared that local businessmen would break the law inadvertently in mainland China, where they said the tax system was too complicated.

Pan-democrats outside Mong Kok Police Station. The camp has announced new measures, including protests, to fight the proposed fugitive law. Photo: Winson Wong

The proposed amendments, revealed by Security Bureau in mid-February, would allow the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions where the city lacks an extradition treaty, including Macau, Taiwan and mainland China.

Plan to send fugitives to mainland China ‘not cause for human rights concerns’

Such requests would be handled on a case-by-case basis. The chief executive would issue a certificate to start the proceeding and the courts would have the final say on granting the arrest and eventual transfer.

The Post learned the city’s two major pro-business parties, the Liberal Party and the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA), met separately with security chief John Lee Ka-chiu last week to present their concerns. Both groups asked that white-collar crimes be exempt from the list of crimes covered by the fugitive proposal.

“It is totally fine to extradite suspects for murder or arson. What bothers us most is the possibility some businessmen might breach mainland Chinese laws unintentionally.”
Felix Chung, leader of the Liberal Party

“It is totally fine to extradite suspects for murder or arson,” Liberal Party leader Felix Chung Kwok-pan said. “What bothers us most is the possibility some businessmen might breach mainland laws unintentionally.”

He said the complicated tax system in mainland China could be a minefield for local businessmen. Other critics feared their links to business partners in these areas would put them in jeopardy.

Chung urged Lee, the security chief, to address these concerns.

Hong Kong is considering changing the law on transferring fugitives – so how are extraditions dealt with now, and why are there no deals with mainland China, Taiwan and Macau?

Lee already dismissed a suggestion to strike out 15 white-collar crimes – including fraud, corruption and money laundering – from the current 46 offences subject to extradition. He said the current list complied with international standards.

Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a Basic Law Committee member and a member of the BPA, called on the government to make it clear suspects would not be handed over to mainland China for civil offences in Hong Kong – even if the crime was considered a criminal offence across the border.
Lawmaker Priscilla Leung urged the government to clarify that suspects would not be handed over to mainland China for civil offences. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said there was concern among businesses that had daily dealings with Chinese officials. He said Leung’s counterproposal did not address the issue.

He added the Chinese government could make politically motivated allegations against someone in the name of economic crimes.

“Leung’s [proposal] would not help for the simple reason – Chinese officials can frame you for any crime,” he said.

Fugitives should only be extradited to Taiwan, not mainland China, Hong Kong opposition lawmakers and lawyers’ group urge government

Philip Dykes, the chairman of the Bar Association, responded to officials’ argument that the amendment was aimed at plugging loopholes exposed by a homicide case last year in which Taiwanese authorities were unable to extradite a Hongkonger accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taipei.

He said the law was drafted years ago so that it would not extradite fugitives to mainland China.

“There is no loophole,” he said. “It is a deliberate choice.”

Dykes feared suspects would lose the right to a fair trial if the amendment was passed.

An alliance of about 19 pro-democracy groups issued a joint statement that said the amendment would dissolve the boundaries between Hong Kong and mainland China “at an accelerated pace” and shake the international community’s confidence in the city’s judiciary.

They called on the government to limit the scope of the extradition amendments to Taiwan.

A spokeswoman for the Security Bureau said it was collecting views to refine the proposal to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: more opposition to plan ned law on extradition