New government to 'improve' cross-strait crime-fighting efforts

Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen listens to Lin Chuan, former finance minister, during a press conference in Taipei, on March 15, 2016.
Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen listens to Lin Chuan, former finance minister, during a press conference in Taipei, on March 15, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

The incoming Tsai Ing-wen administration has spelt out a key area of focus in cross-strait relations - step up communications with Beijing to "improve" an existing joint crime-fighting pact so as to prevent more Taiwanese from being deported to China. Whether Beijing will play ball is another question.

Premier-designate Lin Chuan said yesterday the recent sending of Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects to China from third-party countries undermines Taiwan's jurisdiction. Such problems, he said, are not adequately resolved under the mechanism now in place.

In 2009, Taiwan and China signed the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement, which was negotiated by President Ma Ying-jeou's government.

 

Said Mr Lin: "The new government will work at improving this and will seek to communicate with Beijing to do so.

"We hope that both sides will exercise good faith in addressing the issue, so as to achieve developments in our joint efforts to fight crime."

It is unclear to what extent Beijing will be willing to do so as it calibrates its response to the new Democratic Progressive Party government to be sworn in on May 20. On that day, Ms Tsai will be delivering a speech that will be closely watched for her government's stance on China, including if she will affirm a "one China" principle.

On Saturday, Malaysia deported 32 Taiwanese nationals to China.

They were nabbed for an alleged fraud scheme targeting Chinese citizens. This comes after a similar deportation of Taiwanese suspects from Kenya early last month, under pressure from Beijing.

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, Mr Lin said he was not sure whether the 32 were sent to China as a result of Taiwanese authorities' perceived laxness in dealing with an earlier group of 20 who were returned to Taiwan. They were released after police questioning. Even so, he said, Taiwan follows the rule of law and the suspects cannot be held without sufficient evidence.

Li Xueying

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'New government to 'improve' cross-strait crime-fighting efforts'. Print Edition | Subscribe