Cambodia began deporting 31 Chinese and Taiwanese suspected fraudsters to mainland China yesterday, according to an immigration officer, despite protests from Taiwanese authorities.
Khun Sambo, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Immigration, said yesterday that they have sent “31 Chinese people back to China”.
Immigration police previously acknowledged that seven Taiwanese were among the group, who were arrested for allegedly extorting citizens in China via Voice over Internet Protocol programmes. Sambo said the suspects had been split into two groups: 17 flew from the Sihanoukville airport at 10pm yesterday, and the remaining 14 will fly from Siem Reap on Saturday.
“China couldn’t buy all the tickets [for Phnom Penh], and as they urgently want to send them back, they decided to buy the tickets in [Siem Reap and Sihanoukville] instead,” he said. “We don’t know whether they will forward them to Taiwan.”
Cambodia adheres to the “One China” policy, under which Taiwan is considered a non-independent province of China.
The suspects were arrested early last week. After being informed that seven were Taiwanese, Taipei sent personnel to Cambodia to ask for their extradition to Taiwan, but the immigration office maintained Taiwan had not contacted them. The Taiwanese Foreign Affairs Ministry did not respond to inquiries yesterday.
Chinese Embassy representative Wang Dexin said he had been informed the deportations would start soon, but did not know specifics.
Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski