TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s ruling party on Saturday strongly condemned the deportation of 32 Taiwanese to China from Malaysia on suspicion of telecom fraud, and the outgoing cabinet said Malaysia had acted “under pressure” from Beijing.
The case comes weeks after 45 Taiwanese in Kenya, in another alleged telecom fraud case, were forcibly deported to China, in an incident which also drew protests from Taiwan.
Taiwan’s cabinet said in a statement it had tried in vain to have the 32 suspected Taiwanese sent back to the island, but “under pressure from China”, Malaysia deported the individuals to China on Saturday, without elaborating.
On April 15 another group of Taiwanese suspected of telecom fraud by Malaysian and Chinese authorities were deported back to Taiwan and are being held there on suspicion of committing “serious crime”.
China’s Ministry of Public Security has said Taiwanese have been heavily involved in telecoms fraud in China and have caused huge losses.
Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in a statement said China’s “unilateral and tough action” in the latest deportation was “completely unhelpful to bilateral relations”.
“Any of our nationals who commit crime abroad should be escorted back to Taiwan and face trial here,” it said.
The cases have strained relations between the two sides ahead of the presidential inauguration of Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning DPP on May 20.
Beijing sees self-ruled Taiwan as a wayward province to be taken back by force if necessary, particularly if it makes moves toward independence. It wants Tsai to stick to the “one China” policy agreed upon with the outgoing China-friendly Nationalist government.
Since Tsai and the DPP won Taiwan’s presidential and parliamentary elections by a landslide in January, Beijing has been stepping up pressure on the self-ruled island.
Reporting by J.R. Wu; editing by Andrew Roche