China defends deportation of Taiwanese from Kenya

Workers paste a sign reading "China illegally abducts Taiwanese people" at a press conference organised by lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taipei, on April 12, 2016.
Workers paste a sign reading "China illegally abducts Taiwanese people" at a press conference organised by lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taipei, on April 12, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Beijing defends deportation from Kenya, saying their victims are China residents

Beijing has defended the deportation of at least 45 Taiwanese from Kenya to China, saying they are wanted for suspected telecom scams targeting Chinese nationals - even as Taiwan has labelled the move illegal kidnap.

In remarks made separately yesterday on the latest cross-strait spat, China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and its Public Security Ministry accused Taiwan of not cracking down effectively on such scams, resulting in recurrences and delay in recovery of lost monies.

"Not a few Taiwanese suspects have been immediately released upon deportation back to Taiwan, letting them again set up their criminal rings overseas," said TAO spokesman An Fengshan at a regular briefing yesterday.

 
 

Both agencies stressed that the mainland has jurisdiction over the case as victims of the alleged Nairobi-based telecom syndicate were all Chinese residents, which could refer to foreigners living in China. Also, they said, China has diplomatic ties with Kenya, which has no formal ties with Taiwan.

In a statement on its Twitter- like Sina Weibo account, the Public Security Ministry said it would investigate the Taiwanese according to Chinese law. "We will notify the Taiwanese side about the progress of the investigation," it added.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and its Public Security Ministry stressed that the mainland has jurisdiction over the case as victims of the alleged Nairobi-based telecom syndicate were all Chinese residents, which could refer to foreigners living in China. Also, they said, China has diplomatic ties with Kenya, which has no formal ties with Taiwan.

The ministry said the Kenyan police had busted a syndicate and arrested 48 Chinese and 28 Taiwanese suspects in November 2014, who allegedly posed as Chinese judicial personnel and targeted victims in nine cities and provinces such as Beijing and Jiangsu.

Another 19 Chinese and 22 Taiwanese suspects accused of similar offences were arrested on April 8.

The ministry said the Kenyan judicial authorities made the decision to send 32 Chinese and 45 Taiwanese suspects to the mainland. The first batch of 10 suspects arrived in China last Saturday, followed by 67 set to arrive yesterday.

Revealing details of recent fraud cases, the TAO's Mr An said Chinese victims have lost at least 10 billion yuan (S$2.1 billion) yearly to Taiwanese suspects, with only 200,000 yuan recovered so far.

The biggest of these took place last December and saw officials of an unnamed economic development zone suffering losses of over 100 million yuan in public funds.

He also described how a woman in north-eastern Jilin province who was conned of her husband's death compensation payout and a vegetable seller who lost life savings both committed suicide.

"I hope the Taiwan side can give more thought to the victims when it looks at this issue," said Mr An.

The Global Times tabloid said in an editorial yesterday that Taiwan's reaction has been politicised by the "radical forces".

It urged the incoming Taiwanese government to rein them in and handle the matter from the perspective of cross-strait judiciary cooperation. "It is important that the Taiwan side does not politicise the matter," it added.

Kenya's move comes amid deepening economic ties with China.

China is now Kenya's biggest source of foreign direct investment and largest trade partner.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Taiwanese 'wanted for telecom scams''. Print Edition | Subscribe