A pro-Beijing heavyweight said he believes the central government would not react strongly to suggestions to exclude white collar crimes in amendments to the extradition laws.
Speaking on a radio program yesterday, National People's Congress Standing Committee member Tam Yiu-chung said past experience shows Beijing is willing to listen to views of people in Hong Kong. He cited the Chinese government's recent decisions on income tax and foreign investment as examples.
The government has proposed amending extradition laws to allow one-off handing over of fugitives to regions where Hong Kong has no extradition agreement, including Taiwan and the mainland.
Local business leaders are calling on the government to leave out economic offenses, fearing that they could be handed over to mainland authorities due to complex tax and financial rules across the border.
Tam said 46 offenses are currently listed in the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance that cover a wide range of criminal activities, but the Hong Kong government can consider removing commercial crimes in the coming law amendment.
"It's of no big deal to narrow it [the range of criminal offenses covered by the extradition law amendment] a bit if people are worried," he said.
In the Legislative Council, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said financial crimes are among the 46 offences included in extradition agreements and the government did not create them out of nowhere. "But as it concerns society, we will also be willing to look into this matter once again," she said.
Lam said Hong Kong will propose a discussion with Taiwan once there is a way to handle extradition requests.
Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said he has been meeting members of the business sector over the past few days.
Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, believes the law will affect the city's future, the US-Sino relationship and US-Hong Kong Policy Act.