TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwanese and expats living in the country are becoming increasingly fearful about flying to Hong Kong in case they get arrested and sent to a prison or labor camp in China.
This follows the massive protest against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong on Sunday (June 9) that critics say is a power grab to clamp down on dissidents. More than 1 million people marched to protect what they say are rights guaranteed by the city’s semi-autonomous legal system.
China advocates this same “one country, two systems” approach for Taiwan. Very few people seemed to be buying it, however, when the news cycle started up on Monday in Taiwan.
Particularly virulent in its condemnation of the proposed extradition treaty was SET iNews (三立LIVE新聞), which trotted out a procession of commentators alleging that Taiwan independence supporters faced jail or “labor reform” (勞工改革) if they even visited Hong Kong on a shopping trip.
One of the featured guests was Lin Rong-ji (林榮基), former owner of the Hong Kong Causeway Bay Bookstore, who now lives in political exile in Taiwan. Lin said the protests had united the people of Hong Kong against further erosions of its freedoms.
Lin is known for calling Taiwan the “last bastion of democracy for Chinese.” Screen comments in the “Live Chat” section of the live SET iNews broadcast were almost entirely anti-China.
For example, “KMH” said: “I’m in favor of the British taking back Hong Kong and democratizing it.”
“JLP” added: “If someone goes to Hong Kong and waves the Taiwan flag they will be imprisoned under the law.”
On Facebook forums for expats in Taiwan a number of individuals worried about transiting through Hong Kong and possibly being arrested for saying something against China in their Facebook posts. Others said the idea of trusting the city’s courts was a non-starter since the Hong Kong legislature was beholden solely to Beijing.
Proponents of the extradition treaty, such as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), say the bill will prevent the city becoming a “safe haven” for criminals.
It was the brutal murder of a Hong Kong woman in Taiwan, in February, that has paved the way for this law. Allegedly pregnant with another man’s baby, Chan Tung-kai (陳同佳) strangled his girlfriend, dumped the body in a suitcase and fled back to Hong Kong, where he can avoid extradition due to a loophole in the law.
The proposed law will allow extradition requests from Taiwan, China and Macau for suspects accused of crimes such as murder and rape. Commercial offenses like tax evasion, or offenses with a sentence of less than seven years, will not be included in the bill.
Furthermore, each case will be considered on its merits. Also, the Hong Kong courts have the final say and political and religious crimes will not be extraditable.
The protest on Sunday against the proposed extradition law was the biggest since the Hong Kong Protests in 2014, also known as the Umbrella Revolution (雨傘革命).
SET iNews is part of Sanlih Entertainment Television (三立電視), a nationwide cable TV and streaming network known for its partisan news broadcasts and lurid dramas, pro-independence and DPP friendly views.