TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan said on Friday (April 15) that China was seeking the deportation from Malaysia of dozens of Taiwanese implicated in fraud, just days after Taipei accused Beijing of "abducting" its citizens from Kenya.
The latest incident involved a group of 52 Taiwanese, some of whom were due to be deported to Taiwan on Friday, but the process was delayed allegedly after China's request.
However, a statement from Taiwan's Foreign Ministry on Friday added that of the 52, 20 are en route back to Taiwan, leaving 32 in Selangor and Johor.
"According to our understanding, Malaysia was willing to return them to Taiwan but China later expressed their wish for them to be sent to China since the subjects of fraud are in the mainland just as in the Kenya case," Taiwan Premier Chang San-cheng told reporters.
Taiwan had advised Malaysia and China that the Taiwanese could remain in Malaysia longer for Taipei and Beijing to send representatives to clarify the situation, Mr Chang said.
"Both sides can ... clarify these people's involvement in the case and then determine the best course of action in future judicial process. Both sides should not have preconceived notions that they must come to China or Taiwan."
Just 22 states recognise Taiwan, rather than mainland China.
According to Taiwan's Foreign Ministry, the Taiwanese were detained by Malaysian police last month during five raids linked to telecom fraud, which also led to the arrests of 65 mainland Chinese and two Malaysians.
The ministry said earlier on Friday that it had been in negotiations with the Malaysian government to bring the suspects back to Taiwan to face investigation.
Malaysian and Chinese officials did not have immediate comment on the case.
Taipei this week blasted Beijing 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 "illegally cooperating" with China to deport the Taiwanese.
Taiwan's government said it planned to send a delegation to the mainland on Monday at the earliest to discuss the Kenyan deportations.
China considers Taiwan to be one of its provinces awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the island has ruled itself since 1949 following a civil war split.
Observers say China is stepping up pressure on Taiwan's President-elect Tsai Ing-wen who is set to take office in May as Beijing does not trust her historically pro-independence party.