Countries are helping China ‘hunt’ Taiwanese by extraditing them to mainland, report says

Deportations were to ‘bolster Beijing’s influence abroad’ and undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty, report says

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 01 December 2021 12:32
<p>File photo: Soldiers of People's Liberation Army (PLA) are seen before a giant screen as Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at a military parade  in 2019 </p>

File photo: Soldiers of People's Liberation Army (PLA) are seen before a giant screen as Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at a military parade in 2019

Countries across the world have helped China “hunt down” more than 600 Taiwanese by deporting them to Beijing instead of Taipei in the past three years, a report by a human rights group has found.

Safeguard Defenders, a Spain-based group, warned that hundreds of forcibly deported individuals faced risk of persecution and severe human rights abuses.

The group said “international prosecution of Taiwan nationals amounts to an assault on Taiwanese sovereignty.” The group said it was a part of a global campaign by the Chinese government to “exploit extradition treaties and other agreements”.

The investigative report, titled “China’s Hunt for Taiwanese Overseas”, found that at least 610 Taiwan nationals were deported by foreign governments to China instead of Taiwan in the span of three years, between 2016 to 2019.

While most extraditions were from Asian countries such as Malaysia and Cambodia, some were also from Spain, Armenia and Kenya. Around 219 Taiwanese were deported from Spain, 117 from Cambodia and 79 from the Philippines.

Those extradited to China had to face “arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, and forced televised confessions”, the group said.

Taiwan is a self-ruled territory but China claims it as its breakaway province. Both China and Taiwan agreed more than a decade ago that police of two nations would work together to return the overseas suspects to their respective regions.

But Safeguard Defenders accused China of violating the deal in response to what it sees as the rise of pro-independence mentality with the election of Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen.

The deportations are being used to “bolster Beijing’s influence abroad” and as “a tool to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty,” it said. “Under increasing pressure from Beijing, foreign governments are instead forcibly sending them to the PRC [People’s Republic of China], where they have no roots and no families.”

The investigation found that the forcible deportations were often conducted after they were denied access to consular support or communication from Taipei.

The rights group urged the international community to take immediate steps and intervene in this practice.

China maintains that countries having diplomatic relations with China must not recognise Taiwan. However, China is yet to respond to this new report.

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