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Hong Kong extradition row: Will it damage its star status?

Hong Kong extradition row: Will it damage its star status?

Changes to Hong Kong’s extradition law could hurt the autonomy that has made it one of Asia’s main financial hubs.

The government is seeking to allow extraditions to mainland China, saying it makes sure Hong Kong remains a “safe city for residents and business”.

The proposed changes led to widespread protests in Hong Kong this week and sparked some of the worst violence seen there in decades.

Many worry that Hong Kong’s status as a global financial centre is at risk.

“The passage of the proposed legislation would undermine Hong Kong’s status both as a hub for multinational firm operations and as a global financial centre,” said Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The changes will allow for extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for suspects accused of criminal wrongdoings, such as murder and rape.

Officials have said Hong Kong courts will have the final say whether to grant such extradition requests, and suspects accused of political and religious crimes will not be extradited.

Several commercial offences such as tax evasion have been removed from the list of extraditable offences.

But Hong-Kong based lawyer Antony Dapiran said this does not mean business people are “off the hook”.

“Even though there is some reassurance in the business community that those white collar crimes have been excluded… that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are therefore free of risk,” Mr Dapiran said.

“There are many other ways that someone can be extradited under the current bill for offences other than the offence that they are actually wanted (for).”