A man wanted for murder is no longer wanted in Taiwan. The government of President Tsai Ing-wen has decided to play politics rather than render justice.
It has decided that Hong Kong murder suspect Chan Tong-kai is more useful staying in his own city, which has been tearing itself apart over a proposed extradition law, now withdrawn, that was triggered by his case. This is despite Chan having volunteered to return to Taiwan to face possible murder charges.
Who can blame Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party colleagues? Chan's case has been a godsend. Widely assumed to be a spent force and having to resign as party chairwoman after the DPP's extensive defeats in city and county elections last November, the murder case has completely revived her fortune as she becomes the front runner in the presidential race in January.
The unrest in Hong Kong - triggered by the murder case and now more than four months old with no sign of calming down - is being cited as proof that "one country, two systems" doesn't work for the city, and will fare even worse for the island. And it has thrown her election rivals from the Kuomintang - which at least notionally supports unification - into disarray.
Early this month, in addressing the 108th anniversary of the founding of modern China, Tsai cast herself as protector of Taiwanese "sovereignty" as she again rejected President Xi Jinping's National Day call for talks on reunification under "one country, two systems". The symbolism of the two dates could not have gone unnoticed in Beijing. Xi's hardline statement has only helped consolidate Tsai's standing among the island's independence-minded voters.
That will be her winning ticket in January even as she has made a mess of the island's economy. "One country, two systems" has become a poison pill for any Taiwanese politician with ambitions.
Former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou and other anti-DPP critics have blasted the Tsai government's apparent attempt to drop the island's jurisdiction over the murder case.
But there is nothing for her to gain from cooperating with Hong Kong and everything to win by keeping Chan where he is.
After all, it was Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor who first tried to exploit the murder case to create a pan-Chinese extradition system involving Macau, Taiwan and the mainland. She has ended up the biggest loser while Tsai came out on top.
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