Beijing defends deportation of Taiwan crime suspects to mainland China
Move by several countries has incensed Taiwan, but Beijing says the practice has won widespread international approval and support
China on Wednesday defended the deportation of Taiwan citizens involved in overseas telecom fraud cases to the mainland, saying it had won widespread international approval.
The comments came after Taiwan protested against Spain’s decision to deport about 200 suspects to mainland China.
The Spanish case is the latest involving Taiwan citizens abroad suspected of telecom fraud in China being rounded up with Chinese nationals and sent to the mainland, angering Taipei.
China regards self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province to be united with the mainland eventually.
Taiwanese suspected of telecom fraud were last year deported to mainland China, sometimes forcibly, according to the Taiwanese government, from countries including Kenya, Cambodia and Armenia.
An Fengshan, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, told a regular news conference the deportations occurred in part because both the victims and evidence relating to the fraud were in China.
“This course of action has received widespread approval from people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait and the international community,” he said.
The Spanish government said on Friday it had approved the extradition of 269 “Chinese citizens” as part of a year-long investigation into an internet fraud ring operated from several Spanish cities, including Madrid and Barcelona.
About 839 people were victims and the sum involved in the scam was estimated at about 120 million yuan (US$17.5 million), the Spanish justice ministry said in a statement.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said about 200 of the suspects were Taiwanese and that it deeply regretted the decision.
Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949 and China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
China has increasingly squeezed Taiwan’s international space since last year’s election of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party.