China claims jurisdiction over Taiwanese taken from Kenya

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese suspects involved in wire fraud are escorted off a plane upon arriving at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption A number of Chinese suspects were also deported under heavy security, Xinhua said

Chinese authorities say they have jurisdiction over a group of Taiwanese who were taken from Kenya in a high-profile diplomatic incident.

State council and security officials said the Taiwanese were part of a telecom fraud ring who cost mainland victims billions of yuan.

It is the fullest explanation from China since the furore began this week.

Taiwan has protested at the move, calling it "extrajudicial abduction" and demanding the group's release.

China has praised Kenya for supporting its "one-China policy".

Beijing views Taiwan - self-ruling since 1950 - as a breakaway region that must be reunited with the mainland.

It insists that other countries cannot recognise both China and Taiwan, with the result that Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with only a few countries. Taiwan does not have formal diplomatic relations with Kenya.

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Image caption On Tuesday Taiwanese reporters were given a video clip allegedly showing the Taiwanese suspects under detention by Kenyan authorities

Victims 'all mainland citizens'

China's public security ministry said the group of 45 Taiwanese people were arrested in Kenya in 2014 and earlier this year, along with a number of Chinese citizens, for conducting telephone scams.

Kenyan officials had decided to hand them over to Beijing for investigation.

Eight of the Taiwanese were among the first group of suspects sent to China on Saturday.

The remaining 37 were sent on Tuesday, with Taiwan claiming that they were forced on board a plane by Kenyan police wielding rifles and tear gas.

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Image caption Taiwanese politicians have publically protested the taking of the Taiwanese suspects, calling it "China's illegal abduction"

The public security ministry said, in comments (in Chinese) reported by state news agency Xinhua, that it had opened an investigation as the fraud ring's victims were all mainland citizens.

It added that "according to our country's laws and rules, our legal departments have jurisdiction over the above criminal suspects", including the Taiwanese.

It said it welcomed Taiwan's co-operation in its investigation.

Separately An Fengshan, a spokesman from China's body in charge of Taiwan relations, told reporters that the group of swindlers had cost losses of "tens of billions of yuan".

"Many Taiwanese suspects have been freed as soon as they are transferred to Taiwan. They soon start defrauding mainlanders through their dens in other countries.

"Situations like this have made it difficult to stop telecom swindles and to recover the economic losses cause," he said.

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Image caption Taiwan's Andrew Hsia told reporters that China's taking of the Taiwanese was "rude and savage"

Taiwan says it will send a delegation to China to discuss the incident.

The minister of its mainland affairs council. Andrew Hsia, was quoted by CNA News as saying that China's deporting of the Taiwanese was "rude and savage".

Authorities previously said China's actions amounted to an "uncivilised act of extrajudicial abduction" which represents a "gross violation of basic human rights."

Taiwan is also lodging a suit against Kenyan officials for "forcefully detaining" its people and ignoring an earlier court decision which cleared some of the suspects.

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