Malaysia deported 32 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China Saturday, drawing strong protests from Taipei that the Southeast Asian state had bowed to pressure from Beijing.
32 Taiwanese nationals were taken to China Saturday along with 65 other Chinese nationals, with a plane carrying the suspects landing in Guangzhou around 8pm local time.
The 32 were among a group of 52 Taiwanese who were arrested in Malaysia back in March for telecommunications fraud. Malaysia had deported the other 20 back to Taiwan on April 15, and Taiwan says 18 of those have since been detained after prosecutors obtained evidence from Malaysian authorities.
The case comes just weeks after 45 Taiwanese in Kenya were forcibly deported to China in another telecom fraud case, a move that also drew Taipei’s ire.
Taiwan’s cabinet said in a statement that it tried to have the 32 suspected Taiwanese sent to the island but that Malaysia had deported the individuals to China on Saturday “under pressure from China”. It did not elaborate further.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) also said the move had seriously damaged relations between Taiwan and Malaysia and that it had lodged a formal protest with the Malaysian government, according to Taiwan’s state-owned Central News Agency.
Presidential office spokesman Charles Chen said that the government strongly protests and deeply regrets the development and that outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou had demanded that a delegation be sent to Beijing as soon as possible to negotiate with authorities there.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) slammed the “unilateral and tough action” as “completely unhelpful to bilateral relations.”
“Any of our nationals who commit crime abroad should be escorted back to Taiwan to face trial here,” it said.
The DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen will be inaugurated as president on May 20 following its landslide win against the ruling KMT in presidential and parliamentary elections in January.