7 Taiwanese detained in Cambodia for telecoms fraud

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Cambodia has detained seven people from Taiwan suspected of running a telecoms scam, the self-ruled island said on Thursday (July 20), adding that it is trying to bring them home and avoid their deportation to China.

Cambodia, one of China's closest allies in South-east Asia, does not recognise the island's government.

Last year, Cambodia deported 13 people from Taiwan to mainland China, where they were wanted on suspicion of the same crime, despite opposition from Taipei, which accused Beijing of "abducting" its citizens.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said that seven of a group of 31 people detained on Monday were its "nationals", adding that they might be compelled to go to China, although it was working to ensure they were returned to the island.

"We are seeking for the Cambodia authorities to act in accordance with the 'national jurisdiction principle' and return our country's nationals back home to accept a judicial investigation," a Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Cambodian police said this week that 29 Chinese nationals had been arrested on suspicion of running a telecoms scam and would be deported to China, which would send a plane to pick them up by next week.

It was not clear if the seven Taiwanese were among those 29.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing that China supported Cambodia in enforcing its laws, but did not comment on where the suspects would be sent.

Taiwan, which does not have representatives in Cambodia, said it learnt of the detentions through a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City in neighbouring Vietnam.

Taiwan is working to help the suspects and protect their rights, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said, adding that it hoped to promote joint efforts to crack down on cross-border fraud.

China regards Taiwan as a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. China's nationalists fled to the island after losing a civil war with the communists in 1949.