British Extradition Practice in Early Colonial Hong Kong
Date: May 27, 2019 (Monday)
Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Venue: A723, 7/F, Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU
Abstract： Between 1843 and 1873, British Hong Kong extradited hundreds of Chinese fugitives under treaty for crimes ranging from piracy to slave trading. The story of this regime has never been told, even though it produced the only extradition case to reach the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council during the nineteenth century. Although the case in question, Attorney General of Hong Kong v Kwok-A-Sing (1873), has received scholarly attention, it has been read mostly as proof of prevailing British contempt for Chinese sovereignty. An examination of legal practice over a longer period reveals a more ambivalent reality. Complex circumstances, including local resource constraints and the perceived difficulties of meting out English justice to Chinese subjects, encouraged British officials to strategically disclaim jurisdiction over them. Extradition was used instead to maintain colonial order in Hong Kong, and to further British interests in China, at minimal economic and political cost.
About the speaker: Ivan Lee is a Sheridan Fellow at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, and a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. His research interests lie in legal history and criminal law. His dissertation explores the law and politics of extradition and criminal jurisdiction in early colonial Hong Kong.
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