BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) - Chinese state television has aired confessions by two Taiwanese fraud suspects among dozens deported from Kenya to China, as Taiwan said it would send officials to China to talk about a case that has infuriated Taipei.
Taiwan has said China effectively kidnapped its nationals. Kenya, however, does not have official relations with the democratic, self-ruled island, and considers it part of “one China”, in line with the position of Communist Party leaders in Beijing.
Kenya said the 77 suspects, 45 of whom were from Taiwan, were in the country illegally and were being sent back to where they had come from.
On Friday, Chinese state television aired video of two men in orange jump suits with blurred-out faces, confessing to impersonating police in telecoms fraud in China.
“I now know that carrying out these scams is wrong, and I will accept the punishment of the law,” said one suspect surnamed Jian. “I hope that the government will give me a chance.”
Asked by a woman off-camera what he wanted to say to his “mainland compatriots”, Jian, who had a Taiwanese accent, said: “Sorry to the people of the mainland”.
Reuters was not able to independently verify that they were from Taiwan.
China’s Ministry of Public Security has said the group detained in Kenya had operated out of Nairobi and were suspected of cheating people out of millions of yuan across nine provinces and cities in China. As most of the victims were in China, it said, they would be prosecuted there.
The ministry has said China informed Taiwan of the situation and would invite its law enforcement officials to visit to discuss how best to tackle such fraud. It did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the confessions.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said it had received another letter from China inviting members to visit, and so will send a delegation on Monday to talk about the issue.
“We have not seen those suspects ourselves. We have not seen any evidence ourselves. We are not in a position to comment at this point,” the council’s secretary general, Jeff Yang, told Reuters when asked about the confessions.
The videos are the latest in a recent string of on-camera guilt admissions in China, which this time is likely to aggravate cross-Strait tensions.
Though such displays of contrition have long been part of China’s legal landscape, state media have increasingly used them, including in cases involving foreigners accused of crimes.
That has prompted international criticism that the admissions could be made under duress and that the practice violates China’s own laws on due process.
Reporting by Michael Martina and Natalie Thomas in Beijing and Faith Hung in Taipei; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jason Subler and Nick Macfie