Under exceptional circumstances or between trusting allies, countries will sometimes exchange police, customs inspectors, military personnel and intelligence officers to fulfill liaison requirements. When the situation warrants it, or when allies are especially close, those officers will sometimes be granted extraterritorial powers — in other words, the right to enforce the law on another country’s territory.
Such a measure was launched in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US amid global efforts to combat the proliferation of dangerous weapons. In 2002, for example, the US and Canada launched talks to place customs inspectors on each other’s territory to inspect the millions of tonnes of cargo that arrive at North American ports each year. A similar move, known as the Container Security Initiative, was made by the US Department of Homeland Security whereby US inspectors were placed at major ports around the world to look for chemical, biological and nuclear material.
In every case, the postings were made possible either as the result of high levels of trust between the participating countries, or for immediate security considerations based on a serious threat.
News last week that Taiwan’s Crime Investigation Bureau (CIB) may be considering an initiative in which Chinese police officers would be deployed in Taiwan — and vice versa — could be rationalized in the light of such global initiatives.
The problem, however, is that the level of trust necessary for this measure to be undertaken is lacking and crime-fighting in the Taiwan Strait does not threaten security to the extent that it would make this move imperative — not to mention the odious symbolism of the presence of Chinese police on Taiwanese soil.
Another factor that, in other scenarios, makes officer exchanges possible is mutual recognition of sovereignty among all participants and the limits on extraterritoriality that this implies.
When it comes to China, however, the fact that it does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state and claims it as its own poses additional problems. Among these are the specters of the application of Chinese law on Taiwanese territory and the reinterpretation of Taiwanese laws that could stretch the definition of crime to include “splittism” and speech on topics that are illegal in China.
The initiative also raises questions such as whether Chinese police officers would have power of arrest or be limited to working as liaison officers. Would they be allowed to carry weapons? To investigate? Collect intelligence on dissident groups in Taiwan? Which chain of command would they answer to? If they overstepped their responsibilities, would they be subject to reprimand, or be demoted based on Taiwanese law or China’s?
Despite the need for cross-strait cooperation in fighting crime, the problem is not serious enough and Beijing not trustworthy enough to require the presence of Chinese police in Taiwan. While liaison officers would be acceptable, anything more would be catastrophic for the sovereignty of this nation and should be vigorously opposed. Otherwise, given Beijing’s non-recognition of Taiwan and the risk that these personnel could be used as fifth columnists, allowing Chinese police to operate in Taiwan would be akin to the Czechs welcoming Soviet police to their country prior to the invasion in 1968.
We’ve already seen a surge in police abuse since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to office. The last thing this country needs is the presence of police from a country whose legal system is the byproduct of an authoritarian and colonial mindset.
When I was in Ukraine filming for an upcoming documentary, I was surprised at how frequently my mind naturally tended to map Ukraine’s war experience onto Taiwan, where I have lived for the past 10 years. There are obvious parallels of an imperial nuclear superpower asserting itself over a smaller non-nuclear state, but there are also small mundane things that would impact everyday life. When I saw Ukrainian elderly people filling jugs of water at a church in sub-zero temperatures and hauling it back to their homes which might not have electricity, I imagined the difficulty of a Taiwanese senior
This is the Year of the Dragon. At the beginning of the year, the Chinese government announced that “dragon” is to be translated as long (龍), in a move meant to erase the supposed negative connotations of dragons. In many Western cultures, dragons are often seen as wicked or demonic. This is not just a mere linguistic adjustment. It is symbolic, representing a change in China’s current political culture. Under the overbearing leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), the Chinese government has been undergoing a cultural policy of “de-Westernization.” Although this change in semantics is just one of many
An online petition started by a doctor in Taichung called on lawmakers to halt an amendment that would shorten the time needed for Chinese spouses of Taiwanese to gain citizenship in Taiwan. The amendment could put a strain on Taiwan’s already burdened National Health Insurance (NHI) system, Cheng Ching Hospital thoracic surgery division doctor Tu Cheng-che (杜承哲) said. Doctors have seen many Chinese spouses bring their relatives to hospital emergency rooms, asking for full checkups, he added. “They [Chinese spouses] even tell their relatives that healthcare in Taiwan is free and is easily accessible, and that healthcare providers in Taiwan
On Feb. 15, the UK’s Economist Intelligence Unit released its latest report on the state of democracy around the world. Out of the 167 countries and territories covered by the report, titled Democracy Index 2023: Age of conflict, Taiwan is considered a full democracy, ranking first in Asia and 10th around the world. The index showed that global democracy regressed last year, yet Taiwan countered this trend, a fact that all Taiwanese should take pride in. The report sheds light on the rising tide of authoritarianism, with groups consolidating power within and forming alliances with authoritarian powers without. The international order