Taiwan lukewarm on HK’s proposal of conditional talks over extradition of murder suspect

04-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Taiwan has expressed reservations about conditional talks with Hong Kong’s government over extraditing a student wanted on the self-ruled island for murder, as it confirmed it had received a formal invitation to meet.

Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said on Thursday it had received an invitation, via a letter and a phone call, from Hong Kong officials to discuss the case.

“The relevant suspect has not been dealt with according to the law as the Hong Kong side has long disregarded our appeals,” Chiu said. “We have reservations over requests from the Hong Kong side for conditional talks.”

Chiu said the Taiwanese government also noted that tens of thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets on Sunday to oppose a government proposal to allow extraditions to jurisdictions with which the city lacks a handover deal, and added that amending the laws could violate human rights and raise personal safety concerns. Hong Kong’s Security Bureau proposed the amendments in February.

“Hong Kong is a jurisdiction with an independent judicial system; in fact, if there is no need to amend the laws, [the suspect] can be sent over immediately and we can provide the necessary help,” Chiu said.

Hongkonger Chan Tong-kai, 20, has been wanted in Taiwan since last year, when he was accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taipei before fleeing to Hong Kong. Chan, who on Monday was jailed by the High Court for 29 months on related money-laundering charges, could be released as early as October.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said earlier this week that her government had contacted Taiwanese authorities for conditional talks over the case.

Taiwan authorities had previously complained that their Hong Kong counterparts were unforthcoming about discussing the case through two semi-official agencies: the local Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Cooperation and Promotion Council, and its Taipei-based equivalent, the Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Cooperation Council.

The two agencies were established in 2010 to promote exchanges between the two jurisdictions.

Critics fear that starting extraditions to mainland China would allow Beijing to abuse the new arrangement to target political activists. Others have expressed distrust of the mainland legal system.

In response to Chiu, the Security Bureau said in a statement late on Thursday that there were no preconditions attached to the meeting, which was to discuss what help Hong Kong can provide to Taiwan, such as with evidence and the transfer of the suspect, under the current circumstances.

“We are serious about responding to the demands of Taiwan in a pragmatic and respectful manner. We will continue to do our utmost to discuss with the Taiwan side how to provide the help that they need to demonstrate justice,” it said.

Lam has faced pressing calls to back down on the controversial extradition bill. Michael Tien Puk-sun became the first pro-establishment lawmaker to officially write to Lam demanding the bill be scrapped. Tien, a local delegate to the National People’s Congress, called on the government to tackle the Taiwan case on a one-off basis first.

“There will be a lot less resistance this way… there is no urgency to amend the bill before the Legislative Council summer break,” Tien told a radio show on Friday morning.



Category: Taiwan

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