Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Cross-strait crime fight hindered by politicking

By Yang Yung-nane 楊永年

The recent kidnapping of a China-based Taiwanese businessman in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, who was later released after a ransom was paid, provides another example of how Chinese and Taiwanese criminals work together to commit crime across the Taiwan Strait.

Cross-strait exchanges have grown substantially in business and other areas compared to 10 years ago. Along with this, crime has seen a dramatic increase in both amount and complexity. However, cooperation between Chinese and Taiwanese law enforcement agencies is limited. We need a mechanism that enables authorities to work together to deter Chinese and Taiwanese criminals from colluding with each other.

The problem is that, compared with other cross-strait affairs, the extent of exchange and cooperation between public security organizations is conservative and insufficient. Taiwanese police officers are still prohibited by law from travelling to China. Visits to family members there are also strictly regulated. Exchanges only happen at an academic level or through private organizations. As a result, efforts to stamp out crime cannot match criminal cross-strait collaboration, leaving it a blind spot for public security.

Taiwan's law enforcement agencies find it difficult to continue with investigations once they realize that cases are related to China. Some grassroots police officers told me that cases usually come to a halt if their leads point to China. That's what happened in a case last year in which more than 400 day-care centers in central and southern Taiwan were blackmailed into sending money to a Chinese bank in Kunming, Yunnan Province.

Communications are directed through the crime detection section of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, a method that can be used but not talked about. So, except for major cases or those handled by the bureau, cooperation with Chinese agencies is unlikely.

Predictably, due to the lack of official means of cooperation and communication with China, law enforcement agencies will not be able to stop cross-strait crimes, which are increasing persistently in both quantity and complexity. If the public security authorities on both sides fail to speed up cooperation, they will also miss opportunities to take preemptive measures and prevent crime, thus making cross-strait collaboration a gold mine for criminal groups.

The problem is, despite progress in cross-strait cooperation on crime issues, advances in establishing cooperation mechanisms are very limited under current political structures. The biggest obstacle is politics. Reality demands law enforcement agencies on both sides work together, yet they cannot encourage exchanges or cooperate in investigations due to political factors.

Based on my experience, when concrete attempts at cooperation take place, a flood of petty political maneuvering also gets underway, creating difficulties for police and embarrassment for all. In other words, during a joint effort to deter crime, political factors often weigh so heavily upon the process that professional efforts to investigate crimes are impaired.

Both Beijing and Taipei are responsible for enabling each other's law enforcement agencies to work together to tackle crime. If the two governments can not stop the corrupting influence of politics on law enforcement, further major criminal activity will be the result. When this happens, blaming each other will be useless to investigations.

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