30 Nov 2021

New investigation exposes the PRC hunting Taiwanese overseas

Today, 2021-11-30, Safeguard Defenders releases its latest investigation, China's Hunt for Taiwanese Overseaswhich is the first brief report of its kind to document hundreds of cases of the People's Republic of China's (PRC's) international harassment campaign against Taiwanese nationals via deportations and extraditions. It presents the fullest picture to date of this alarming trend. This international persecution of Taiwan nationals amounts to an assault on Taiwanese sovereignty, and is 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.

Safeguard Defenders has documented over 600 cases between 2016 and 2019 of Taiwan nationals abroad who have been extradited or deported from countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe. However,  they have not been returned to Taiwan. Under increasing pressure from Beijing, foreign governments are instead forcibly sending them to the PRC, where they have no roots and no families. These forcible transfers are also often taking place following the denial of access to Taiwanese consular support or communication in the sending country, and sometimes followed by ongoing denial of contact with Taiwanese officials or family members once they are in the PRC.

These forced transfers put Taiwanese nationals at risk of severe human rights abuses. This pressure from Beijing is furthermore a direct refutation of the PRC's obligations under the Cross-Strait Agreement on Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement. Just as much as it is being used to bolster Beijing’s influence abroad it is being used as a tool to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Download the investigation as PDF, China’s Hunt for Taiwanese Overseas, or for more on Safeguard Defenders’ work on China’s exploitation of INTERPOL, see “No Room To Run”. For other issues related to the expansion and abuse of extradition agreements, and broader extrajudicial involuntary returns, visit Safeguard Defenders' publications section.

Report revised with some additional data, including some new cases, on 2023-05-30. 


Executive Summary

The PRC has increasingly shown that it has no regard for the rule of law, and will violate international norms without hesitation in pursuit of its opponents around the world. Through transnational repression and formal extraditions, the PRC is pursuing economic fugitives, Uyghur refugees, human rights defenders, and fleeing Hong Kongers. But one group that has received far less attention to date: hundreds of Taiwanese nationals have been detained and forcibly extradited to mainland China from around the world.

International extradition and human rights norms set out clear conditions on acceptable extraditions and grounds for automatic rejections. At the core of these international norms is the principle of non-refoulement, which simply dictates that no country is to send anyone to another country where they are at risk of persecution or gross human rights abuses.

Conditions in China are such that fundamental human rights are wantonly denied, with impunity. These human rights abuses are both widespread and systematic as Safeguard Defenders has reported elsewhere, on arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, and forced confessions.

The extradition of Taiwanese nationals to the PRC under pressure from Beijing should very much be seen as a violation of their human right to a fair trial, and their right to be free from torture. The international community should take immediate steps to halt this practice.

Read the full investigation as PDF, China’s Hunt for Taiwanese Overseas.