[UPDATE] Cambodia to Deport Taiwanese Fraud Suspects to … China

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像
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The move occurs weeks after Taiwanese suspects in Kenya and Malaysia were sent back to China.

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[UPDATE]:

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs today said that the deportation of 17 Taiwanese from Cambodia to China has been delayed.

Liang Guang-chung (梁光中), director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ho Chi Minh City, says earlier plans for the deportation were canceled due to changes in China's plan. The 17 Taiwanese are still expected to be deported to China.

While Taiwanese businesspeople in Cambodia have reportedly visited the detainees, Taiwanese officials are still blocked from visiting them.

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Katherine Chang (張小月) says the council has told China it hopes to deal with the Taiwanese criminals. China has not responded. Chang says it is necessary for governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to better cooperate on joint crime fighting. Because the victims are in China, Chang says, the issue of reparations still needs further discussion.

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) has also commented the issue.

[UPDATE ENDS]

Cambodian authorities on Monday announced the imminent deporting of 13 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China despite efforts by the Taiwanese government to have them repatriated to Taiwan.

According to Cambodian immigration officials, 13 Taiwanese and 14 Chinese nationals were arrested for alleged Internet fraud on June 13 in a raid at their villa in Phnom Penh. Soon thereafter, Taiwanese representatives contacted their Cambodian counterparts to ensure its nationals were sent back to Taiwan. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that the Taiwanese officials were unable to meet with the suspects.

“We have decided to deport them to China because they all are Chinese,” an immigration official told reporters on Monday, toeing the “one China” policy of Cambodia, one of Beijing’s closest and most dependent allies in Southeast Asia.

According to Reuters, Cambodia has deported more than 200 Chinese nationals since it launched a crackdown on Internet and telecoms scams in late 2015.

In April, Kenya and Malaysia deported dozens of Taiwanese fraud suspects to China for similar reasons. In the former case, a Kenyan court had already clearned the Taiwanese suspects of business and telecom crimes. Efforts by Taipei to have them returned to Taiwan all failed. As those incidents occurred while the Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was still in office in Taipei, this suggests that Beijing’s extraterritoriality, rather than a desire to “punish” Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), was behind the pressure on Nairobi and Kuala Lumpur.

In all cases, Beijing has requested the alleged perpetrators be deported to China as the fraud victims are Chinese citizens.

State-run Xinhua reports that since efforts were launched to identify and arrest fraud rings targeting Chinese citizens, more than 4,600, from a total of 7,700, were from Taiwan. Beijing also claims that Taiwanese authorities have been too lenient in their prosecution of suspected telecoms fraudsters.

In February 2011, the Philippines deported 14 Taiwanese and 10 Chinese nationals involved in an investment scam to China, sparking anger in Taipei. Manila, which enjoyed close ties with Beijing at the time, never apologized for the move. During a markedly different regional context amid an escalating territorial dispute between Manila and Beijing in the South China Sea, the Philippines sent 42 Taiwanese fraud suspects back to Taiwan in October 2015.

(This article was updated on June 20, 2016, 14:57: Kenyan court ruling.)

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