Taiwan protests after Malaysia deports 32 to China

By Mahmut Atanur

BEIJING (AA) – Taipei has lodged a protest after Malaysia sent 32 Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects to mainland China, in a case that has led to tension between Beijing and a territory it considers a breakaway province.

The Taiwan-based China Post reported Sunday that Taipei’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Kuala Lumpur that the deportation Saturday had “seriously harmed” their relationships.

In mid-April, Malaysia sent 20 other Taiwanese suspects accused of involvement in an alleged Malaysia-based telecom fraud ring targeting residents of China’s mainland to Taiwan.

The suspects were initially released — prompting criticism from Beijing – before 18 were re-arrested and two, who were not detained due to “lack of evidence”, were banned from leaving the island.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice announced late Saturday that a delegation would be sent to the mainland in around a week to discuss the matter.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that the 32 Taiwanese were among 97 suspects who arrived in the southern city of Guangzhou in shackles and donning black hoods at night.

Beijing had asked Malaysia to sent all suspects to the mainland since they allegedly targeted people on the mainland, with its Ministry of Public Security inviting Taiwanese police to work together on the case.

In early April, Kenya deported 77 telecom wire fraud suspects — including 45 Taiwanese — to mainland China, drawing a protest from Taipei.

Mainland police later announced that all 77 confessed to the charges against them and would face trial in the mainland.

Mainland authorities have accused networks allegedly led by Taiwanese citizens and based in Southeast Asia and Africa of extorting money from mainlanders through telephone calls in which they claim to be law enforcement officials.

China’s Ministry of Public Security has insisted on the “legal rights” of the mainland’s judicial bodies over the suspects.