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Hong Kong bookseller flees to Taiwan

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 30, 2019 - Duration: 02:16s

Hong Kong bookseller flees to Taiwan

A Hong Kong bookseller who was detained by China is seeking refuge in Taiwan, saying his home city will no longer be safe when new laws are enacted allowing extradition to China.

Justin Solomon reports.

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Hong Kong bookseller flees to Taiwan

Lam Wing-Kee Is far from home.

He has fled Hong Kong fearing arrest and extradition to mainland china.

Afraid a potential new law would put him in Beijing's crosshairs.

The 63-year-old worked at a Hong Kong bookshop owned by a publisher critical of China's leaders.

In 2015 he found himself in the spotlight, detained by Chinese agents along with 5 other booksellers.

He was detained in mainland China by authorities, but allowed to return home for a brief visit while on bail.

He stayed, because right now Hong Kong doesn't have an extradition law.

That's about to change.

In less than three-months time Hong Kong is expected to pass laws that would allow extradition to China (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) LAM WING-KEE, FORMER EMPLOYEE OF CAUSEWAY BAY BOOKS, SAYING: "There's no way I can remain in Hong Kong.

All I can do is leave The law is seen as a test of the autonomy of Hong Kong which is ruled by China but has inherited a separate legal system from British colonial rule.

(SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) LAM WING-KEE, FORMER EMPLOYEE OF CAUSEWAY BAY BOOKS, SAYING: "They are making kidnapping legal, this is very clear.

The Basic Law (Hong Kong's mini-constitution) states clearly that China's constitution doesn't apply in Hong Kong, but through this new extradition law, they are concealing China's laws inside Hong Kong.

It is making Hong Kong into a very dangerous place.

Anyone could be extradited." Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam says extradition laws are necessary to prevent it from becoming a haven for fugitive criminals.

She points her finger at the case of a Hong Kong man suspected of killing his girlfriend in Taiwan but can't be sent back to face trial under current law.

But critics, who took to the streets by the 10's-of-thousands last weekend disagree saying the aim is to tighten China's grip on the city.

The bookseller said his "heart is in pain" at having to leave his home.

He is now looking to open up an independent bookstore of his own, in Taiwan.

(SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) LAM WING-KEE, FORMER EMPLOYEE OF CAUSEWAY BAY BOOKS, SAYING: "Opening a bookshop is a very clear action.

By opening a bookshop, we can help people know what's going on in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China.

Through our hard work we hope to do this." In a statement to Reuters - a representative of Taiwanese Mainland Affairs Council wrote that the country is "a society that protects human rights and stresses the rule of law."

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