[JURIST] Taiwan and China [JURIST news archives] on Sunday signed a landmark judicial cooperation agreement [DOC text, in Mandarin], under which each side will help to repatriate suspected criminals. The transfers of almost 40,000 criminals and suspects between the nations have been facilitated by non-governmental organizations since 1990, but the new agreement allows for direct judicial cooperation [Xinhua report]. Taiwan hopes the agreement will help combat the trend of economic criminals successfully fleeing to China [Taipei Times report]. The agreement also calls for cooperation in serving court documents, enforcing civil judgments and sharing evidence — especially for crimes such as kidnapping and drug offenses.
The strained political relationship between Taiwan and China that now dates back 60 years to the 1949 Communist takeover of the mainland has had a variety of legal repercussions over time. In 2007, calls by then-Taiwan president Chen Shui-Bian for a new independentist constitution [JURIST report] for the country drew severe criticism from the mainland leadership, with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing saying in response that "whoever wants to split away will become a criminal in history." In 2005, China's National People's Congress approved an anti-secession law [JURIST news archive] authorizing the use of "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan as a last resort in reunification.