Taiwan protests after Malaysia deports telecom fraud suspects to mainland China

Case latest example of foreign governments sending Taiwanese crime suspects to the mainland, angering Taipei

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 1:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 1:57pm

Taiwan has expressed its “stern opposition” to Malaysia’s deportation of 21 Taiwanese suspected of multi-million dollar telecoms fraud to mainland China, the latest example of a problem that has strained cross-Strait ties.

The mainland’s official Xinhua news agency said the 21 Taiwanese were among 74 fraud suspects who were escorted from Malaysia by mainland police and arrived in Wuhan in central China late on Tuesday. The other 53 were all mainlanders.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed regret and stern opposition to Malaysia’s decision to deport the Taiwanese to mainland China, according to a statement on its website.

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“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 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 send all suspects to the mainland.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, its mainland policymaker, said Beijing’s action “damages the tacit understanding and foundation for cooperation between security agencies”.

It said in a statement that cracking down on cross-border telecom fraud depended on cooperation from both sides.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry did not comment immediately.

Xinhua described the deportations as part of cooperation between Malaysian and mainland Chinese police to crack down on several Malaysian-based fraud gangs who they say have been scamming people on the mainland.

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Those deported are suspected of involvement in more than 500 cross-border fraud cases, online and over the phone, totalling more than 60 million yuan (HK$67 million), it said.

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 Chinese province.

Since last November, Beijing has cooperated with police in Kenya, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia to break up more than 60 telecom fraud rings and arrest more than 1,000 suspects, its public security ministry said in September.

Mainland TV has aired confessions by some of the Taiwan people previously deported, raising concerns in Taiwan over violations of due process.