Taiwan’s government has been using Hong Kong issues for political scoring in the run up to the presidential election. Having criticised Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor over the murder case that sparked the city’s extradition bill crisis, Taiwanese authorities have resorted to the same tactics and slammed Hong Kong officials for being uncooperative in a robbery case. This is not surprising, as the ballot is just weeks away. But it came at the expense of confidence in the city’s rule of law and must be robustly rebuked. The lack of agreements over legal assistance and the surrender of fugitives was already put under the spotlight in the wake of the ill-fated extradition bill, under which Chan Tong-kai could have been sent to Taiwan for a murder trial. Recently, the island’s justice ministry accused Hong Kong of rejecting its request for video footage and other evidence related to a robbery allegedly committed by a Taiwanese man. The 30-year-old was accused of snatching two watches worth a total of HK$990,000 from a Tsim Sha Tsui shop before returning to the island in October. But the absence of any arrangement means both sides can do little to help each other. Taiwan and Hong Kong trade insults over robbery suspect in extradition row The vacuum is not just Hong Kong’s responsibility. And Taiwan must be fully aware of that when pressing ahead with the requests. The Lam administration rightly retorted that its suggestion for the robbery suspect to turn himself in to Hong Kong authorities was questioned by Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council. Far from being a haven for criminals, Hong Kong has been victimised by a lack of legal agreement, for which Taiwan is also responsible. That Taiwan has repeatedly taken advantage of Hong Kong for electoral reasons is regrettable. Even though the Lam administration is weak, it should not be abused for political gain. The government said the remarks were tantamount to requesting it to violate its own laws; and it disagreed with what it described as “exercising the rule of law with political considerations”. It is good that officials have nonetheless given Taiwan some relevant materials within the confines of the system. But given the close contact between the two places, bilateral agreements are still needed to plug the loophole in the longer term.