There have been 47 times more requests for legal assistance between Taiwan and China in the five months since a mutual assistance pact took effect in June than between Taiwan and the US in seven years, Ministry of Justice figures show.
Taiwan and China asked each other for help 3,452 times between June 25 and Nov. 30, compared to 73 cases between Taiwan and the US over the past seven years, the figures show.
Mutual legal assistance cases cover repatriating criminals, collecting evidence, exchanging intelligence, and sending alerts on major events.
Of the above cases, 93 were requests to repatriate wanted persons, 243 were to exchange intelligence, 61 were for investigations and collecting evidence, 64 were for picking up criminals returned by either side, 264 were for sending important alerts, 22 were for exchanging ideas on specialized fields, and 2,705 were related to the delivery of legal documents.
These requests were made possible by the pact on crime fighting and mutual legal assistance during cross-strait talks in April this year.
Despite the agreement, however, Beijing has failed to hand over most of the Taiwanese fugitives living in China, many of whom were white-collar criminals, a justice ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
Chinese authorities are willing to hunt down wanted gangsters and repatriate them, because they may hook up with Chinese gangsters and commit more crimes there, the official said, but many economic criminals avoid arrest by keeping a low profile or exerting political or financial influence.
The same goes for the US, which has not repatriated a major Taiwanese white-collar criminal so far, the official said.
Chinese officials told their Taiwanese counterparts after the pact took effect that nabbing white-collar criminals would have an adverse impact on the economies of Taiwan and China because such arrests might create panic among Taiwanese-invested businesses, the official said.
Greater Taiwan-China cooperation in this area would create a new milestone, especially if judicial authorities on either side were allowed to conduct investigations on each other’s territories, the official said.