China admits holding Taiwanese from Kenya

A group of Taiwanese deported from Kenya to China after being acquitted in a cyber crime case are wanted for suspected fraud in China, the Chinese government says.

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The case has enraged Taiwan, which has accused Beijing of kidnap.

The Kenyan government said the people were in Kenya illegally and were being sent back to where they had come from.

Kenya does not have official relations with democratic Taiwan and considers the island part of “one China”, in line with the position of Communist Party leaders in Beijing.

China’s ministry of public security said Kenya had decided to deport 32 Chinese and 45 Taiwanese to China, of whom 10 had already arrived and another 67 would leave on Wednesday.

Xinhua showed some of them arriving in Beijing with black hoods over their heads, escorted by police.

Taiwanese had been heavily involved in telecoms fraud in China and had caused huge losses, with some victims killing themselves, the ministry said.

Taiwanese criminals “have been falsely presenting themselves as law enforcement officers to extort money from people on the Chinese mainland through telephone calls”, the ministry added.

The group detained in Kenya had operated out of Nairobi and were suspected of cheating people out of millions of yuan across nine provinces and cities in China, and as most the victims were in China, they would be prosecuted there, it said.

China had informed Taiwan of the situation and would invite Taiwan law enforcement officials to visit to discuss how best to tackle such fraud, the ministry said.

China views Taiwan as a wayward province and has not ruled out the use of force to ensure unification. Defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 after the civil war with the Communists who have remained in control in Beijing since then.

Only 22 countries recognise Taiwan as the Republic of China, with most, including Kenya, having diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, with its leaders in Beijing.

Taiwanese lawmakers grilled government officials during parliamentary committee sessions about the case.

“The Chinese judicial system is in question for many people in Taiwan,” said Lo Chih-cheng, a lawmaker for the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. “They are wondering if those people can get a fair trial in China.”

Hong Kong authorities are still waiting for detailed explanations from China regarding the case of five booksellers in Chinese-controlled Hong Kong who temporarily went missing in mysterious circumstances. They had produced and sold gossipy books critical of Chinese leaders, leading to suspicion among some that they were abducted by Chinese agents.

China has denied any wrongdoing.