TAIPEI/BEIJING • Taiwan has expressed its "stern opposition" to Malaysia's deportation of 21 Taiwanese suspected of multimillion- dollar telecoms fraud to China, the latest example of a problem that has strained cross-strait ties.
China's official Xinhua news agency said the 21 Taiwanese were among 74 fraud suspects who were escorted from Malaysia by Chinese police and arrived in China on Tuesday. The other 53 were all Chinese.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry expressed regret and "stern opposition" to Malaysia's decision, according to a statement. "This action by Malaysia has seriously harmed the rights of our citizens, and harms the long-standing friendship between Taiwan and Malaysia," it said.
The statement also said that Taiwanese police had been working with Malaysia to arrange for the suspects to be returned to Taiwan, but that Beijing had pressured the Malaysian government to deport all suspects to the mainland.
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, its China policymaker, said Beijing's unilateral action "damages the tacit understanding and foundation for cooperation between security agencies". It said in a statement that cracking down on cross-border telecoms fraud depended on cooperation from both sides.
Malaysia's Foreign Ministry did not immediately comment on the deportation. Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan and treats the island as part of China in line with Beijing's "one China" principle, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province.
China's Taiwan Affairs Office suggested that the blame lay with Taipei for its lack of coordination in fighting crime and for not effectively stopping Taiwanese from taking part in such acts.
Xinhua described the deportation as part of cooperation between Malaysian and Chinese police to crack down on several Malaysian-based gangs who they say have been scamming people on the Chinese mainland. Those deported are suspected of involvement in cross-border fraud cases involving more than 60 million yuan (S$12.4 million).