China will repatriate a Taiwanese murder suspect who fled to the mainland last month, officials said Tuesday, in a rare act of cooperation between the two sides at a time of soaring tensions.

The suspect, identified by his family name Huang, fled to the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen last month after allegedly shooting and killing a man in New Taipei. 

China Great Hall
Photo: Eric Jiang, via Flickr.

Xiamen police decided to send him home after he admitted to the crime, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said.

The move will boost efforts to fight violent crime and “maintain order” in relations between the two sides, it added.

No date has been given for the extradition. 

Taiwanese media reported Huang has been trapped in a hotel since fleeing to the mainland, which requires all inbound travellers to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. 

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory to be re-taken one day, by force if necessary, though both have been ruled separately since 1949.

The division has complicated law enforcement efforts, and for years some of Taiwan’s most wanted criminals fled to China to dodge prosecution at home.

A more Beijing-friendly Taiwanese government signed a crime-fighting deal with China in 2009, agreeing that police from both sides could return suspects to their respective territories.

Taiwan flag
Photo: Taiwan Presidential Office, via Flickr.

But China has cut off official communication and ramped up pressure on Taiwan since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who rejects Beijing’s stance that the island is part of Chinese territory.

Taiwan’s top China policy-making body promised to cooperate with Beijing on Huang’s repatriation.

“Criminals are the enemies of the world. We hope the authorities on both sides can continue to fight crimes,” the Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement, adding that China had repatriated four Taiwanese suspects last year. 

No data has been released on how many Chinese citizens have been sent home from Taiwan.

The looming repatriation stands in stark contrast with an impasse provoked by the high-profile murder of a Hong Kong woman by her boyfriend during a holiday to Taiwan in 2018. 

Chan Tong-kai has admitted killing his girlfriend in a Taipei hotel room but he has remained free in Hong Kong as Taiwan and the semi-autonomous city argue over the handling of his case.

Hong Kong blames “political manipulations” by Taiwan, which insists on holding formal talks with the Chinese city’s government on the case.

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