Taiwan says Kenya to deport another 37 Taiwanese to China
12 April 2016, 13:03
Taipei (AFP) -Taiwan said Tuesday 37 of its citizens in custody in Kenya were set to be deported to China, a day after accusing Beijing of "abducting" a group of eight Taiwanese from the African nation.
Fifteen of the group had been cleared of involvement in a telecoms scam by a Kenyan court, the foreign ministry said.
The remaining 22, who were believed to be currently aboard a Chinese plane awaiting departure, had not faced trial following their arrest Friday on similar charges, it said.
Taiwan has no diplomatic ties with Kenya, which recognises the government in Beijing. Its nearest diplomat is based in the South African capital.
"Early this morning... we were notified that the mainland and Kenya may be attempting to send (the suspects) to China," said Chen Chun-shen, chief of West Asian and and African affairs at Taiwan's foreign ministry.
"Our colleague went immediately to the prison to see the detainees but faced all kinds of impediment," Chen told reporters in Taipei.
He added that three people from China's Kenyan embassy were also present.
Of the eight Taiwanese already sent to Beijing, one of them has an American passport, Taiwan's foreign ministry said.
Mainland authorities have not confirmed details of the deportations and Taipei is still seeking a response.
When asked about the deportations, China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: "The One-China policy is an important pre-condition for bilateral relations with China and other countries.
"We commend Kenya for its upholding of this policy," he told reporters at a regular briefing.
China still regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though Taiwan has ruled itself since 1949.
Taiwan's previously frosty relations with the mainland have improved over the past eight years under outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou, whose Kuomintang party has a tacit agreement with Beijing to acknowledge there is "One China."
The mainland is stepping up pressure on Taiwan president-elect Tsai Ing-wen -- who is set to take office in May -- as Beijing does not trust her historically pro-independence party.