Taiwan human rights lawyer warns against traveling to Hong Kong due to new extradition bill

Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang says critics of Beijing could end up in a Chinese jail if they travel to Hong Kong

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The photo shows Central Hong Kong

The photo shows Central Hong Kong (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Taiwan human rights group has expressed grave concern over the safety of Taiwanese visiting or transiting through Hong Kong, after the city’s government passed the first reading of a controversial proposed amendment to the extradition law, the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

Media reported that Hong Kong has fugitive extradition deals with about 20 countries, but none of them are applicable to China, Macau, and Taiwan. The government proposed revisions earlier this year to pave the way for negotiations of similar agreements.

There is mounting concern the amendment would enable China to arrest local and foreign political dissidents, or whoever upsets Beijing in this autonomous territory. This could further weaken Hong Kong's competitiveness as an international financial hub.

Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah (鄭若驊) assured the public that no one would be sent to China for political, religious or ethnic reasons. Nevertheless, pan-democrat lawmakers remain highly critical of the proposed change to the law.

Taiwan's Economic Democracy Union (EDU) convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) expressed his concerns on Thursday (April 4). He said the new rule would allow the Chinese government to arrest Taiwanese citizens traveling to or transiting through Hong Kong for whatever reason, according to Taiwan's Apple Daily.

Lai gave the example of Taiwan human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who has been arrested and imprisoned without due process by the Chinese government since 2018. Lai said there are tens of thousands of Taiwanese who have repeatedly criticized Beijing online and could face the same fate as Lee if they are in Hong Kong once the new amendment is enacted.

"International business travelers who are staying in or transiting through Hong Kong should stay alert too, as they could be arrested (due to an invented crime) and sent to China," Lai added.

Chiu E-ling (邱伊翎), secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, urged the Taiwan government to issue a Hong Kong travel warning and alert citizens of the risk if the amendment takes effect in Hong Kong, which is adjacent to China.