US lawmakers are concerned about the Hong Kong government’s plan to update its extradition laws, pro-democracy legislators said after meeting a US delegation on Monday.

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said the congresspeople have met with the American business sector in Hong Kong to discuss the extradition law reforms which democrats have been opposing.

us hong kong lawmakers
US and Hong Kong lawmakers meet. Photo: LegCo.

“[The Congresspeople] were very concerned. They asked about this issue when they met with us,” Yeung said after the one-hour lunch meeting.

“In our understanding, the delegation also met with the Secretary for Justice this morning. Therefore, we have expressed our views with the American side about the problems that could be caused by the extradition law.”

The proposed law would allow the city to handle extradition requests from jurisdictions where there are no pre-existing agreements – most notably from mainland China and Taiwan. The plan has sparked concern from the local and international business sector, as people in Hong Kong could potentially be extradited to mainland China over economic crimes.

pro-democracy lawmakers
Pro-democracy lawmakers after meeting with US representatives. Photo: Line Post Screenshot.

The Congressional Delegation led by the National Committee on United States-China Relations – an NGO based in New York – included US representatives Rick Larsen, Darin LaHood – co-chairs of the Congress’ U.S.-China Working Group – as well as Julia Brownley, Bill Flores, Greg Glanforte and Guy Reschenthaler. US Consul General Kurt Tong also attended the meeting, having previously expressed concerns.

The European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao has said the law could affect its citizens in Hong Kong: “Satisfactory safeguards should be enforced in case of ad hoc extradition. We have conveyed our concerns to Hong Kong authorities… On such a sensitive issue, a longer and more in-depth public consultation, including a consultation with countries that currently have an extradition arrangement with the Hong Kong SAR, would have been desirable,” it said on Monday.

US delegation Legislative Council
The US delegation at the Legislative Council.

Democrats to visit US

Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok said the representatives agreed that the disqualification of lawmakers, the expulsion of Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet last year and the new extradition law cast a huge challenge to the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

Kwok, lawmaker Charles Mok and former chief secretary Anson Chan will travel to the US on Monday night. Kwok said he believed they will continue the discussion on Hong Kong issues in Washington DC.

Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong lawmaker Priscilla Leung, who also attended the meeting, said some members of the delegation told her that it was their first time in China and they were not very familiar with Hong Kong issues.

Priscilla Leung
Priscilla Leung. File Photo: LegCo.

She said foreign media often invited opposition lawmakers to express their views, and thus there was a need to let the US hear different voices.

“So that they can determine a wise policy to deal with US-China trade relations, as well as [maintain a] diplomatic relationship. Because at the end of the day, how to handle [the] Hong Kong-US relationship – we would like to have mutual benefit, which must be based on mutual understanding and mutual respect,” she said.

Last Saturday, the Chinese foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong published a statement on its website over the new extradition law proposal. It is rare for the office to comment on a local legislative issue.

The statement used a question and answer format, whereby the office answered questions from the press over foreign concerns about the proposal.

The office said it has noted such reports: “Cooperation in combating crimes is a common need for the international community, and is in line with the common interests of all sides. The relevant countries should respect the rule of law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and respect its normal legislation process,” the office said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.