Beijing: China's Xi Jinping administration has been pressuring foreign governments to extradite Taiwan nationals to its country as part of an effort to undermine the self-ruled island, the human rights group Safeguard Defenders said in a report. According to the group, the practice has increased after Tsai Ing-wen, who wanted independence for the nation, was elected as president of Taiwan five years ago, Al Jazeera reported.
The Safeguard Defenders' investigation showed that at least 610 Taiwanese were deported to China instead of Taiwan by foreign nations between 2016 and 2019. The foreign countries are mainly from Asia and also Spain, Armenia and Kenya. And most of the deported were accused of telecom fraud.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, but more than a decade ago, the two had agreed that police work together in third countries to return overseas suspects to their respective territories. Safeguard Defenders said that China has been ignoring that deal.
Transfer to China often took place after the Taiwanese were denied access to consular support and communication to Taipei, Taiwan's capital. Also, once in China, those transferred were denied contact with Taiwanese officials or their family members.
In the report published on Wednesday, Safeguard Defenders said that the international prosecution of Taiwan nationals amounts to an assault on the country's sovereignty. It is also part of the larger global campaign under Xi Jinping to exploit extradition treaties, mutual law enforcement agreements, and other multilateral institutions for the Chinese Communist Party's political objectives.
Under international law, no country is supposed to send anyone to another country where they are at risk of persecution or gross human rights abuses. But China wantonly denied fundamental human rights and subjected Taiwan nationals to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and forced confessions, the human rights group said. It urged the international community to intervene and immediately oppose the extradition of Taiwanese to China.