KL deports 32 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China

Latest action inflames Taipei, deals fresh blow to cross-strait ties

TAIPEI • Malaysia has deported 32 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China, leaving the island's government furious once more in the latest bout of cross-strait diplomatic sparring.

It comes after Taipei accused Beijing of "abducting" its citizens from Kenya earlier this month.

The deportations are seen by observers as a shot across the bows of Beijing-sceptic Tsai Ing-wen, who will be inaugurated as Taiwan's president on May 20.

The Democratic Progressive Party, in a statement, said China's "unilateral and tough action" in the latest deportation was "completely unhelpful to bilateral relations". Presidential office spokesman Charles Chen said Taiwan would send a delegation to the mainland "as soon as possible".

The 32, along with 65 Chinese suspects of the syndicate, arrived in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou last night, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.

They were part of a group of 53 Taiwanese suspects detained by Malaysian police in March during five raids linked to telecom fraud targeting people in China. One Taiwanese suspect had a work permit in Malaysia and was released.

Twenty of them were deported two weeks ago back to Taiwan, where they were initially allowed to go free.

After complaints in Chinese state media, which labelled Taiwan a "haven of frauds", 18 of them were later arrested. They are currently in custody in Taiwan.

Questions had swirled over the fate of the other 32 suspects, with Taiwan saying it was negotiating with Malaysia for their return.

Taipei blasted Beijing earlier last month for being "rude and violent" over the deportation of 45 of its citizens from Kenya to China where they face investigation for fraud.

It has also filed a suit against several top officials in Kenya for ignoring a court decision which cleared some of the suspects and for "illegally cooperating" with China to deport the Taiwanese.

Chinese victims have lost at least 10 billion yuan (S$2 billion) yearly to Taiwanese suspects, with only 200,000 yuan recovered so far.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 01, 2016, with the headline 'KL deports 32 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China'. Print Edition | Subscribe