External Affairs

Taiwan Fumes as Indonesia Sends Fraud Suspects to China

In a similar deportation last year, police escort a group of people deported from Kenya for suspected fraud as they get off a plane after arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, April 13, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Yin Gang/Xinhua/Files

Taipei: Taiwan has protested to Indonesia for sending more than 100 telecoms fraud suspects, including 22 Taiwan nationals, to China, the self-ruled island said on Thursday, the latest in a series of such deportations.

Taiwan, an island China considers a wayward province, has protested to Vietnam, Cambodia and Kenya for doing the same thing.

Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Kenya, like all but a shrinking handful of countries in the world, adhere to Beijing’s “one China” policy and do not recognise diplomatic rival Taiwan, whose official name is the Republic of China.

China has suspended dialogue with Taipei since June, a month after pro-independence Tsai Ing-wen took office as Taiwan‘s president, because Tsai has refused to accept Beijing’s “one China” principle.

Indonesia sent 143 suspects to either the Chinese cities of Chengdu or Tianjin on Thursday, the Taiwan foreign ministry said in a statement.

Indonesia had cooperated with China to arrest the 143 suspects on Saturday, the statement said.

“We request a diplomatic consul visit as well as assistance in identifying the people, and urge Indonesia to handle this justly in accordance with the law as well as to provide channels for judicial relief to the Taiwan nationals,” the ministry said.

Taiwan also emphasized that China and Taiwan should cooperate to investigate cross-border crime.

“But China forcibly sending Taiwan nationals to the Chinese mainland completely ignores goodwill and appeals from our side…and impacts the healthy development of cross-straits relations,” Taiwan‘s Mainland Affairs Council said.

China‘s foreign ministry did not comment on the case on Thursday.

Indonesia‘s immigration office spokesman Agung Sampurno said all of the 143 suspects were Chinese nationals.

Authorities in the Southeast Asian country also had three Taiwanese and one Malaysian in custody related to the fraud case, but they were still under investigation, Sampurno added.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control. China‘s Nationalists fled to the island after losing the Chinese civil war with the Communists in 1949.

Last year, Beijing thanked Kenya for deporting five people from Taiwan to China as part of a crackdown on telecoms fraud, and urged Taiwan to support the action after its foreign ministry protested.