Taipei and Hong Kong are at odds over a Taiwanese man who is suspected of committing a robbery in Hong Kong before fleeing back to the island nation.

The man, surnamed Lin, allegedly robbed a watch shop in Tsim Sha Tsui on October 6, making off with two watches worth HK$990,000. He was arrested in Taichung on October 11.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice requested legal mutual assistance and evidence from the Hong Kong authorities in order to handle the case. But the Hong Kong Security Bureau said on Saturday that there were no existing laws between Hong Kong and Taipei on legal mutual assistance and the transfer of fugitives.

John Lee
Secretary for Security John Lee. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

The Bureau said that, if the suspect was willing to surrender himself to Hong Kong, local authorities would take him.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) also urged Hong Kong to provide evidence: “The Taiwan side believes that a responsible government, which attaches importance to rule of law and the safety and rights of people, would not allow a suspect who was involved in serious crimes to walk freely to surrender himself without legal assistance,” it said.

Chiu Chui-cheng
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council’s Chiu Chui-cheng. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/VOA/Zhang Yongtai.

Extradition case

The MAC added that Hong Kong was not doing much over the Chan Tong-kai murder case, and he has yet to receive punishment for his crime.

“Do not let Taiwan and Hong Kong residents be disappointed again, or even make them suspect that Hong Kong’s behaviour will make Hong Kong a heaven for criminals,” it said.

Chan – a Hong Kong resident – confessed to murdering his girlfriend in Taiwan. He fled to Hong Kong after the incident, but neither Taipei nor Hong Kong were able to prosecute him for murder. His case triggered the extradition bill saga.

Chan Tong-kai Taiwan murder suspect released prison "October 23"
Chan Tong-kai is released from prison on October 23. Photo: Stand News.

The Hong Kong government in response expressed strong opposition to the Taiwan authorities’ “repeated unfounded claims” regarding legal assistance between the city and Taiwan.

“With clear understanding that Hong Kong has no law to provide legal assistance and surrender fugitive offenders to Taiwan, the Taiwan authorities are still repeatedly making irresponsible and slanderous remarks about Hong Kong, to which the HKSAR Government expresses its objection and discontent,” it said in a statement.

“With a view to combating crimes, the HKSAR Government has already provided materials to the Taiwan authorities within the confines of its system. We urge the Taiwan authorities not to put politics before the rule of law and use cases of Chan tong-kai and the suspect Lam as excuses to jeopardise the rule of law,” it added.

“Taiwan authorities’ remarks are tantamount to requesting the HKSAR Government to violate its own laws. Hong Kong cannot agree with the Taiwan authorities’ exercising the rule of law with political considerations. This is in violation with Hong Kong’s spirit of the rule of law.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.