FOURTEEN asylum-seekers released last year after China refused to accept their repatriation will be deported to the mainland in a deal that calls for Hong Kong to pay Beijing $500,000. The group will be deported despite claims they spent as little as two days in China on their way to the territory from Vietnam. Their failure to correctly answer questions about current affairs in Vietnam convinced the Government they had arrived in the territory after having settled in China and therefore should be sent to the mainland. Refugee lawyer Rob Brook lashed out at the plans, saying sending the group to China 'purely on the basis of a current-affairs quiz' was contrary to all human rights standards. Sworn government affidavits have been presented to the courts arguing 'strenuous efforts' had been made to repatriate the group. They said the asylum-seekers were only categorised as ex-China Vietnamese illegal immigrants after 'careful examination by immigration officers, as they had poor knowledge of current affairs in Vietnam'. They said after a visit by a Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs delegation last November, the Chinese side 'officially confirmed that they would not accept them back since they had never been resettled in China' after leaving Vietnam. A government spokesman last night said the 14 had always been considered ex-China Vietnamese illegal immigrants and had 'never lost their status'. A Security Branch official did not respond to the South China Morning Post's questions asking why China was accepting them. On December 13, Hong Kong Refugees Co-ordinator Brian Bresnihan called a press conference to announce the release of the 14 people, as their continued detention would be illegal. It is now expected the group, who have been living at the Pillar Point refugee camp, will be asked to return to detention and be deported. All 340 ex-China Vietnamese illegal immigrants in the territory will be deported within the next few months, according to the deal announced by the Immigration Department last month under which Hong Kong promised to pay China $500,000. Many thousands of Vietnamese settled in China's Guangxi province in 1979 and 1980 during the Sino-Vietnamese war. In a letter to lawyers representing the 14 Vietnamese released last December, the Legal Department's William Marshall QC said: 'Evidence in respect of these persons is that they resided de facto for years in China after fleeing Vietnam. The suggestion that they spent two days only in China en route to Hong Kong is wholly refuted. 'Experienced officers interrogated the group very thoroughly to test whether they had recent knowledge of Vietnam and China and the clear conclusion was that they had not resided in Vietnam for many years but had resided recently in China. 'This conclusion is accepted by the Chinese who have now agreed to take them back,' the letter said. Mr Brook said some of his clients had indicated that they had spent only two days in China on their way to Hong Kong. 'It appears that a deal has been done whereby people who were once rejected by China have miraculously been accepted,' he said. 'And Hong Kong says they must be from China rather than Vietnam because they don't read the papers. This is a ludicrous assertion. 'If China has new information about these people which confirms they spent the years in China that Hong Kong says they must have, why don't they tell us? 'Otherwise, these people are being sent to a country where they have no links whatsoever.'