666 Taiwanese nationals extradited to China: MAC

12/02/2021 07:53 PM
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Illustrative image from Pixabay
Illustrative image from Pixabay

Taipei, Dec. 2 (CNA) The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has confirmed that 666 Taiwanese nationals accused of telecom fraud and other crimes had been extradited to China from around the world but did not specify the exact time period for when these extraditions took place.

The confirmation by MAC Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) came on Wednesday after human rights organization Safeguard Defenders released a report on Nov. 30, revealing that more than 600 Taiwanese nationals had been extradited or deported to China between 2016 and 2019.

The Chinese authorities began ramping up their efforts in 2016 to have Taiwanese nationals accused of crimes that involved victims from China sent to their country from third countries, Chiu said.

These countries, which do not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan but usually have extradition treaties with China, often did so "without any consultation or prior notification to the Taiwanese authorities," the report said.

According to the report, the Spanish government sent 219 Taiwanese nationals to China, followed by Cambodia with 117 Taiwanese, during that period.

The report noted that "the majority of extraditions of Taiwanese nationals have taken place in the last five years" although the organization had documented similar cases for the past decade.

On Wednesday, Chiu did not elaborate why there had been an uptick in the extraditions of Taiwanese nationals since 2016, but attributed it to a change in Beijing's policy.

Relations between Taiwan and China soured after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in 2016. Beijing has since then cut official contacts with Taipei and ramped up its efforts to isolate Taiwan from the international community.

Chiu went on to say that since July 2019, most of the Taiwanese nationals arrested overseas for their involvement in fraud cases had been repatriated to Taiwan for subsequent investigation and trial.

This was probably because the Chinese government knew that most of the illegal gains in those cases had been sent back to Taiwan, and that without working with Taiwan, it would be difficult to claim compensation for Chinese victims, he added.

The report also described the extraditions of Taiwanese nationals as a "geopolitical" issue, as Beijing has utilized its extradition treaties with other countries as a way to exert its sovereignty over Taiwan.

The MAC said it had repeatedly protested against China for using extradition as a means to undermine Taiwan's sovereignty.

The council also urged the Chinese government to work with Taiwan on combating transnational crimes based on the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement, which was signed in 2009.

The agreement stipulates that law enforcement officials from both Taiwan and China will work together to retrieve suspects and return them to their respective nations for trial.

(By Chai Sze-chia, Matt Yu and Teng Pei-ju)

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