Months of opposition and violent protests have forced the Hong Kong government to abandon the controversial extradition bill, under which fugitives would have been sent to jurisdictions with which the city has no such treaty, including the mainland and Taiwan. Regrettably, the unrest sparked by the ill-fated legislative attempt continues, as does the perceived legal vacuum. The violence facing the city is no doubt worrying and must be tackled as a matter of priority. The vacuum, while becoming less urgent after Chan Tong-kai, the murder suspect at the centre of the fiasco, is prepared to surrender himself to the Taiwan authorities, still warrants rectification in the longer term. Taiwan asks Hong Kong to help find watch store robbery suspect The need for an extradition deal is highlighted in the escape of a Taiwanese suspect following a robbery in Hong Kong last month. According to the police, the man arrived on October 6 and stole two luxury watches from a Tsim Sha Tsui shop before fleeing back to the island on the same day. While it is understood that the Hong Kong government is trying to confirm the identity of the suspect with the Taiwan authorities, he is unlikely to face prosecution due to the lack of an extradition treaty between the island and the city. A government source said it was possible that the suspect deliberately took advantage of the vacuum. It would be worrying if this is the case. Despite the city’s close exchange with the mainland and Taiwan, neither is covered by the city’s 20 extradition treaties. Admittedly, the differences between the mainland and Hong Kong judicial systems mean the transfer of criminal suspects for trials across the border remains a highly sensitive issue. The fallout of the anti-extradition bill movement over the past five months underlines the complexities of the issues involved. The matter can also be politicised, as reflected in the row over Chan’s intention to travel to Taipei to give himself in. The legal vacuum will not be filled by itself even when order and stability return to the city. Until there are extradition treaties with the mainland, Taiwan and Macau, criminals will take advantage of the situation. The best way of securing the transfer of fugitives to places without such arrangements is through comprehensive bilateral agreements. The earlier they are in place, the better.