While President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has lauded the effects of an agreement on mutual judicial assistance between Taiwan and China following the release on Saturday of Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner Bruce Chung (鐘鼎邦) by Chinese authorities, only six out of the more than 1,000 Taiwanese convicted and sentenced in China have been transferred back to the country in the past three years, government statistics show.
According to the latest statistics by the Ministry of Justice, since the signing of the Agreement on Joint Cross-Strait Crime Fighting and Mutual Judicial Assistance by Taiwan and China in April 2009, the government has requested the return of 334 of more than 1,000 Taiwanese who are currently serving sentences in China.
However, only six have been handed over to Taiwan’s judicial system, while the extraditions of the rest are still “underway,” the statistics show.
The agreement states in its preface that both parties agree to render assistance in deporting across the Taiwan Strait transgressors who have been convicted of a civil or criminal offense.
To avoid any wrongful prosecution, the agreement affords judicial authorities from both sides of the Strait a chance to review the rulings handed down upon their respective citizens as well as all legal documents on the investigations launched by the other side of the Strait into those who have been pronounced guilty.
Despite these promises, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said during a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee last year that as of the beginning of this year, only one Taiwanese convicted in China was deported back to Taiwan, an alarming figure that has not improved in spite of Lai’s continued negotiations with her counterparts in China in the past three years.
An unidentified source familiar with China’s judicial system said that Chung, who was detained for more than 50 days on allegations that he had compromised China’s national security, was only released and deported back to Taiwan as the result of relentless petitions by Taiwanese of all walks of society.
Widespread media attention to Chung’s detention during the eighth round of cross-strait talks between Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) and Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) last week also contributed to Chung’s release, the source said.
The source said that without such efforts and media coverage in Taiwan, Chung would most likely be sentenced to prison and become another name on a long list waiting for deportation to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, of the 640 wanted Taiwanese fugitives in China, 203 have been returned to Taiwan since the agreement was signed, statistics have shown.
However, a number of Taiwan’s most-wanted fugitives who fled to China — including former Tuntex Group chairman Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪), former legislative speaker Liu Sung-pan (劉松藩), former Kuangsan Enterprise Group president Tseng Cheng-jen (曾正仁) and former Kaohsiung Council speaker Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄) — are still at large.
On the other hand, Taiwan has captured and deported five out of seven — or 71 percent of — of Chinese fugitives in Taiwan who are wanted across the Strait.