Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has warned that a travel alert may be issued for Hong Kong, if the city passes a proposed update to its extradition laws.
The Hong Kong government has proposed a case-by-case system that would allow the city to handle extradition requests from jurisdictions where there are no pre-existing agreements – most notably China and Taiwan. It intends to primarily use it against a Hong Kong suspect – accused of a murder which occurred in Taiwan – who fled back to Hong Kong.
But critics of the proposal have raised concerns that, if the update is passed, Hong Kong people – and anyone passing through the city – could be extradited to mainland China.
Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, said in an interview with Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao published on Monday that the Hong Kong government’s plan, if passed, may harm the rights and safety of Taiwanese people in Hong Kong, and he would not rule out all necessary measures.
“We will remind our nationals that you may face potential risk if you travel to Hong Kong – we may even issue a travel alert for Hong Kong,” he said.
Chiu said Taiwan would not accept such extradition plan, if its premise was that Taiwan is part of China.
“We will not sacrifice our sovereignty to negotiate this matter,” Chiu said.
Taiwan has been ruled by the Republic of China government since 1945 after Japan – which occupied the island for 50 years – was defeated in the Second World War. The People’s Republic of China claims that the island is one of its provinces and does not recognise it as an independent country.
Chiu also said that, if Hong Kong wished to handle the extradition of the murder suspect, it could have worked with Taiwan on a case-by-case basis, without making a large-scale law amendment that includes extradition to mainland China and other areas.
He said Taiwan has provided information to Hong Kong upon request, but Hong Kong thrice ignored requests to provide evidence and extradite the suspect.
“To be honest, it was not so reciprocal, not so mutually beneficial,” Chiu said, adding that he was disappointed.
Responding to reporters after attending a meeting at Taiwan’s legislature on Monday, Chiu said a travel alert was only one of the measures that Taiwan can implement to protect the safety and rights of Taiwanese people in Hong Kong.
He said that Taipei will monitor the developments.
In response, Hong Kong Undersecretary for Security Sonny Au said it has reached out to Taiwan to discuss the case.
“We hope the relevant jurisdiction will adopt a practical attitude – we are talking about the case and human rights protection,” Au said.