Seven Taiwanese citizens will be deported to mainland China alongside 24 Chinese nationals despite efforts by Taiwanese officials to have them repatriated to the island, an immigration police official said yesterday.
The group was arrested in Phnom Penh last week for allegedly working to scam Chinese citizens through a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, and Sok Phal, chief of the Interior Ministry’s Immigration Department, said they will be sent to China on Saturday.
“We don’t know whether they will then be sent to Taiwan,” Phal said of the seven, adding he had not been contacted by Taiwanese authorities but that the Chinese government said all were citizens of the mainland.
Wang Dexin, head of the political office at the Chinese Embassy, said any decision to send the seven to Taiwan would be up to Beijing, which considers the island non-independent.
“Taiwan is part of China,” he said, describing the decision as part of China’s “internal affairs”.
However, Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday reiterated at a press conference in Taipei that they had sent officials to Phnom Penh over the issue. An official said they had “requested for these suspects to be repatriated . . . according to ‘international jurisdiction’”.
The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry last week said it sent the staff from its Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ho Chi Minh City, which declined to comment further on the issue yesterday.
Last week, 25 Taiwanese citizens were also arrested in Thailand over a similar VoIP scam, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said. Media reports said they will also be sent to mainland China against the wishes of the Taiwanese government.
Additional reporting by Brian Ng