Global campaign under Xi Jinping to exploit extradition treaties

A new report documents hundreds of cases of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) international harassment campaign against Taiwanese nationals via deportations and extraditions.

The report by Safeguard Defenders presents the fullest picture to date of this alarming trend. “This international persecution of Taiwan nationals amounts to an assault on Taiwanese sovereignty, and is part of the larger global campaign under Xi Jinping to exploit extradition treaties, mutual law enforcement agreements, and other multilateral institutions for the Chinese Communist Party’s political objectives,” it said.

China has increasingly shown that it has no regard for the rule of law, and will violate international norms without hesitation in pursuit of its opponents around the world. Through transnational repression and formal extraditions, China is pursuing economic fugitives, Uyghur refugees, human rights defenders, and fleeing Hong Kongers. But one group that has received far less attention to date: hundreds of Taiwanese nationals have been detained and forcibly extradited to mainland China from around the world, the report said.

International extradition and human rights norms set out clear conditions on acceptable extraditions and grounds for automatic rejections. At the core of these international norms is the principle of non-refoulement, which simply dictates that no country is to send anyone to another country where they are at risk of persecution or gross human rights abuses.

Conditions in China are such that fundamental human rights are wantonly denied, with impunity. These human rights abuses are both widespread and systematic as Safeguard Defenders has reported elsewhere.

The extradition of Taiwanese nationals to the PRC under pressure from Beijing should very much be seen as a violation of their human right to a fair trial, and their right to be free from torture, the report said.

Safeguard Defenders has documented over 600 cases between 2016 and 2019 of Taiwan nationals abroad who have been extradited or deported from countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe. However, they have not been returned to Taiwan.

Under increasing pressure from Beijing, foreign governments are instead forcibly sending them to China where they have no roots and no families. These forcible transfers are also often taking place following the denial of access to Taiwanese consular support or communication in the sending country, and sometimes followed by ongoing denial of contact with Taiwanese officials or family members once they are in China.

These forced transfers put Taiwanese nationals at risk of severe human rights abuses. This pressure from Beijing is furthermore a direct refutation of China’s obligations under the Cross-Strait Agreement on Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement. Just as much as it is being used to bolster Beijing’s influence abroad, it is being used as a tool to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty.

(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.s@ians.in)

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