China criticises Taiwan over telephone fraud case

Alleged fraud suspects arrive at Taoyuan Airport from Malaysia on 15 April 2016. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Taiwan says it has no evidence the alleged suspects did anything wrong

China has criticised Taiwan for releasing 20 people suspected of being involved in a telephone fraud case linked to mainland China.

They were part of a group of Taiwanese nationals arrested in Malaysia and deported to Taiwan.

China said it wanted to prosecute them, but Taiwanese officials said there was insufficient evidence.

Taiwan has protested after Kenya deported to China 45 Taiwanese nationals accused of the same crime.

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The latest case began in Malaysia, which last month arrested 119 people suspected of being involved in a number of telephone scams. Just over half the suspects were from China, and more than 50 were from Taiwan.

China's Xinhua state news agency said the fraudsters pretended to be law enforcement officers in order to extort money from their victims, many of them from mainland China.

China wanted them returned, saying its people had been defrauded. Taiwan said they were its citizens and so should be sent home.

A batch of 20 Taiwanese suspects were eventually sent to Taiwan - and immediately released.

The Taiwanese authorities said there was not enough evidence to prosecute, although they said they had asked China to provide information.

Beijing reacted angrily.

"By releasing the suspects, [the] Taiwan authorities disregarded many victims' interests and harmed them a second time," a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office - China's Taiwan policy body - was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

He said Taiwan should seriously pursue wrongdoers.

About 30 Taiwanese suspects involved in this case are still in Malaysia awaiting a decision on where they should be deported to.

One-China policy

Chinese authorities have said they have jurisdiction over the group of Taiwanese who were deported from Kenya.

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

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

Taiwan said they were forced on board a plane by Kenyan police wielding rifles and tear gas.

It said the deportation amounted to "extrajudicial abduction" and called for the group's release.

But China has said some of these suspects have already admitted what they have done.

China also 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 or Malaysia.

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