Taiwan on Thursday warned China could use the sweeping national security law it imposed on Hong Kong for “hostage diplomacy”, urging democratic countries to unite against Beijing’s “autocratic” expansion.
The Hong Kong security law has rattled nearby self-ruled Taiwan, which China regards as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize, by force if necessary.
A provision within the law claims global jurisdiction and allows China to prosecute especially serious cases instead of semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s independent judiciary.
The law would enable Beijing to carry out “hostage diplomacy”, Chen Ming-tong, head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan’s top China policy body, told reporters.
“The national security law for Hong Kong has seriously invaded democracy and human rights to impact regional security and unnerve the international community.”
The law says national security offences can be prosecuted even if they take place outside Hong Kong or China and are committed by foreigners.
That has raised fears that Beijing critics could face prosecution and extradition to China if they travel to or transit through Hong Kong.
Chen urged democratic countries to “stand united in order to effectively counter China’s expansion in an autocratic nature”.
Canada accused China of “hostage diplomacy” after two of its citizens were detained soon after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on a US extradition request.
The two men have since been hit with spy charges.
Taiwan’s government now fears something similar could happen with the Hong Kong law.
Beijing has taken an especially hardline towards Taiwan ever since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen because she regards the island as a de facto sovereign nation and not part of “one China”.
Taiwanese critics of Beijing have been increasingly turned away by Hong Kong authorities in recent years.
Tsai, who has been critical of Beijing’s clampdown against Hong Kong protesters, has warned of “countermeasures” should the new security law cause any “damage” to Taiwan.
Taipei has a trade and cultural office in Hong Kong handling unofficial ties.
But it has been devoid of a chief since mid-2018 as Hong Kong has yet to issue a visa amid worsening ties between Taipei and Beijing, as well as Taiwan’s support for the city’s pro-democracy movement.
Over the years, China has used national security laws to prosecute Taiwanese nationals on the mainland.