TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A former Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official and scholar on Sunday (July 12) warned that the new national security law directed at Hong Kong could result in countries friendly to Beijing extraditing Taiwanese to China.
Chen Ming-chi (陳明祺), former MAC deputy minister and assistant professor of sociology at National Tsing Hua University, was cited by Liberty Times as saying that some developing countries involved in Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative may be asked to cooperate in extraditing Taiwanese citizens based on the new national security law. He added that Taiwanese citizens will now "need to take precautions."
Chen pointed out that prior to the law, China had already set a precedent in detaining "fugitives" overseas. For example, Gui Minhai (桂民海), a Swedish citizen and shareholder of Hong Kong's Causeway Books, disappeared while vacationing in Thailand in 2015; in 2016, Chinese state-run media announced he had been arrested for "illegal business operations."
Gui was released in 2017 only to be abducted again by suspected security agents in 2018. While in detention, he allegedly issued a forced confession denouncing Swedish politicians, and in February of this year he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "illegally providing intelligence overseas."
Article 38 of the Hong Kong national security law states: "This Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region." Due to the fact that China has signed many bilateral extradition treaties, the inclusion of this provision has raised concerns in many countries, with Canada and Australia having already suspended their extradition agreements with Beijing.
Tung Li-wen (董立文), a consultant for Taiwan Thinktank, told the newspaper that from a legal interpretation perspective, when Taiwanese citizens go to countries that have signed extradition agreements with China, Hong Kong, or Macau, "There is a real risk of being extradited to China." Tung said that this is particularly a concern in countries more politically aligned with China and where the rule of law is not sound.
Tung advised that when a Taiwanese citizen visits China, their "risk of arrest may be higher." However, he believes that extradition generally excludes political prisoners and that countries with sound democratic systems should identify them on a case-by-case basis.
Nevertheless, Tung says that Taiwanese in the future will need to pay more attention to whether countries have signed extradition treaties with Hong Kong.
Despite the increasing risk of extradition in certain countries, Chen emphasized that this should not limit their pursuit of freedom of speech. Chen said that if people muffle themselves, "This will achieve China's goals."
Chen asserted that the more the Chinese Communist Party suppresses Hong Kong, the more Taiwanese must express solidarity with the people of Hong Kong through their freedom of expression. Chen then called on the government to cooperate with countries with shared democratic values as soon as possible to give Hong Kong a free voice and suppress the "terroristic effects" that the national security law may have on the world.