Hong Kongers accused of violating the upcoming national security law may be extradited to the mainland to face trial, pro-Beijing figure Tam Yiu-chung said on Wednesday.
Tam, a National People’s Congress Standing Committee member (mainland China's top legislative body), told a RTHK radio program that he believed specific cases relating to foreign interference may be handled by the central government, with accused individuals potentially being extradited to the mainland. Tam added that the number of such cases would be very little and the move would not harm Hong Kong’s judicial power.
Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office had earlier said that the central government would have jurisdiction over “very serious” cases when applying the new national security law, and under rare circumstances.
Tam also said he expected that the Hong Kong police would handle most of the cases, and a proposed national security agency in Hong Kong would be responsible for coordinating with the police and guiding their work.
There have been ongoing protests in Hong Kong since last June, which were sparked by opposition to a now-withdrawn draft law that would allow the extradition of people in Hong Kong to the mainland for trial, which has not been possible since the 1997 handover.
The National People’s Congress will hold a meeting between Thursday and Saturday in Beijing, with one of the items on the agenda being the “speeding up” of the implementation of a national security law in Hong Kong. Tam said that the wording used for the agenda item did not mean the law would be discussed at the meeting. He explained that the Standing Committee usually holds meetings in even months, and as he had not received notification that there would be any extra meetings, meaning the law could be passed by the end of June or in August.
Pro-Beijing New People’s Party lawmaker and former security minister Regina Ip said there was no existing extradition arrangement between Hong Kong and the mainland, but Beijing would have jurisdiction over crimes related to national security. However, she said such a move would cause “a huge shock” as Hong Kongers were used to open trials with human rights protections in place.
Wu Chi-wai, chair of the Democratic Party, said if mainland authorities had the power to enforce the law in Hong Kong, it would violate Hong Kong’s legal system, turning it into one like in mainland China, where people were accused of made-up crimes.
Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki attacked Tam’s remarks and said they ignored Hong Kong people’s views, putting “one country, two systems” to an end. He said Article 22 of the Basic Law stipulated that mainland authorities cannot conduct law enforcement in Hong Kong. “Tam is a traitor to Hong Kong,” Kwok said.