A team of Hong Kong officials will be in Beijing today to hold talks with mainland authorities on improving the mutual notification mechanism between Hong Kong and China in cases involving cross-border detention of people.
Coming on the heels of the recent controversy surrounding the detention of Hong Kong booksellers in the mainland, the Hong Kong delegation will be led by Security Secretary Lai Tung-kwok and Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen.
Other members of the delegation include acting police commissioner Tony Wong Chi-hung, Director of Immigration Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, and Commissioner of Customs and Excise Roy Tang Yun-kwong, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
The team is heading for Beijing following an invitation from China’s Ministry of Public Security and the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. It will return to Hong Kong the same day.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told reporters Monday that the two sides will hold a comprehensive and in-depth review of the notification mechanism that has been in place for more than 10 years.
One of the issues that will be reviewed is the timeframe for China to inform Hong Kong of any arrest of Hong Kong citizens on the mainland.
A press conference will be held Wednesday to reveal the outcome of the meeting, Leung said.
The meeting comes as Hongkongers have been questioning the effectiveness of the existing mutual notification system between Hong Kong and the mainland, pointing to the saga of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing last year.
Mainland police failed to notify the detention of Lam Wing-kee, one of the booksellers who was held in China for eight months.
Following his release, Lam returned to Hong Kong in June and revealed that he was abducted by people from the “Central Case Examination Group” last October in Shenzhen.
Ching Cheong, a senior journalist and political commentator who was imprisoned from April 2005 to February 2008 in the mainland on charges of spying for Taiwan, is not optimistic about any concrete result from the meeting between Hong Kong and mainland officials.
The Hong Kong government can’t do anything if the mainland doesn’t abide by rules of the notification mechanism, especially in cases involving national security and political issues, he said.
The meeting is nothing but a show to help Leung build a case for re-election, Ching said.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said the delegation should not just to listen to what China’s public security ministry has to say, but must instead take the initiative to find out the identities of the two people that Lam claimed accompanied him back to Hong Kong.
He also urged the delegation to demand a 14-day deadline of notification be set for the mechanism.
Meanwhile, To, who has kept close contact with Lam, revealed that he and Lam had been tailed by some unknown people.
The people who followed them didn’t appear to be from the media, the lawmaker said, adding that he has reported the matter to the police.
Security Secretary Lai said on Monday that the case is being investigated and that the police will be happy to provide Lam protection if he asks for it.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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