Taiwan advocacy groups call for retaliation against Hong Kong extradition bill

Bill that set off big protest to go to Hong Kong legislature
Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee, right, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, center, and Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng listen to reporters questions during a press conference in Hong Kong Monday, June 10, 2019. Lam signaled Monday that her government will go ahead with proposed amendments to its extradition laws after a massive protest against them. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

TAIPEI (CNA) – Dozens of civic groups in Taiwan called on the government on June 11 to adopt concrete regulations in response to Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill, suggesting tighter controls on investments from Hong Kong and visits by its civil servants, for example.

In a statement issued ahead of the expected second reading of the bill Wednesday, the groups urged the Taiwan government to submit a countermeasure proposal to the Legislative Yuan during its extraordinary session on June 17.

The Taiwan government should also issue a statement, asking the Hong Kong government to halt its review of the bill, which could put the personal freedom of Taiwanese nationals at risk, as it would allow the Hong Kong government to send suspects to China for trial, the groups said.

Despite fierce opposition by an estimated 1 million protesters in Hong Kong on June 9, the China-backed extradition bill is expected to be passed by lawmakers soon.

In light of the anticipated passage of the bill, the Taiwan government should review the special status it accords Hong Kong, the civic groups said.

Because of Hong Kong’s relative autonomy, it comes under different regulations than China regarding legal and travel matters, according to Taiwan’s laws, the groups said.

Currently, Hong Kong residents can more easily obtain an entry permit to visit Taiwan, compared with their Chinese counterparts who are subject to stricter regulations that require them to either submit a proof of savings in excess of NT$100,000 (US$3,157) or present a valid visa from certain other countries such as the U.S. or Canada.

Furthermore, investment from Hong Kong is regulated under the rules governing foreign investment and remittance, rather than those that apply to China.

“That special status was granted on the basis of Hong Kong’s relative autonomy and its tradition of the rule of law, unlike Chinese provinces,” the groups said.

“But the passage of the extradition bill will spell the complete demise of whatever autonomy Hong Kong has left under China’s ‘one country, two systems.’”

In recent years, the Chinese government has been tightening its grip on Hong Kong, as evidenced by the extradition bill, Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強), founder of the Taiwan Citizen Front, one of the groups that signed the statement, told CNA.

“If the bill is passed, Taiwanese people traveling to or transiting through Hong Kong could be sent to China,” he said.

Noting that Hong Kong is also accorded special status by other countries because of its historical peculiarities, the groups said those countries should restrict or revoke that status, depending on how the situation in Hong Kong evolves, so as to prevent China from impairing rule of law and human rights in Hong Kong.

If the extradition bill is passed, the Taiwan government should issue an emergency decree suspending the Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, in full or in part, and apply instead of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, the groups said.

Visits to Taiwan by Hong Kong civil servants and police, and investments by Hong Kong residents, groups or organizations should be subject to the rules that apply to China, which are stricter due to the complicated nature of cross-Taiwan Strait relations, the civic groups said.

“We are trying to send China an important message,” Lai said.

“If the bill is passed, Hong Kong will lose its particularity.” That would pose a problem for China because many Chinese officials conduct financial transactions through Hong Kong, he added.

Meanwhile, a group of Taiwan-based Hong Kong students also issued a statement Tuesday calling on Taiwanese to stand alongside the people of Hong Kong and “say no to China’s suppression.” “

As the 2020 elections draw near, many Taiwanese are experiencing an overwhelming fear that their country may be doomed, that the Chinese Communist Party may invade Taiwan and force a peace agreement and the “one country, two systems” model on them,” the students said in the statement.

Taiwan and Hong Kong share a similar destiny and they should join hands to fight against China’s aggression, the students said. ●

By Stacy Hsu