As the deportation of 21 Taiwanese nationals to China looms, a Chinese official claimed the mainland has jurisdiction over the suspects recently arrested in Cambodia and accused Taiwan of having released past criminals accused of victimising mainlanders, an assertion an official in Taiwan refuted yesterday.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Cheng Hongbo said via email that China had jurisdiction over the Taiwanese suspects because they had “caused a tremendous loss to people on the Chinese mainland”, and because “Quite a few Taiwan suspects were released as soon as they were returned to Taiwan and some resumed their wrongdoing”.
However, Frances Lee, of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the allegations were false. “They don’t have any jurisdiction,” she said. “It’s two different nations. My government strongly opposes such action.”
Lee added that Taiwan had a “very sound” judicial system. She said a Taiwanese official from Ho Chi Minh is in Cambodia trying to negotiate the suspects’ return to Taiwan.
However, Sok Phal, director of the Ministry of Interior’s immigration department, said he had only heard that Taiwanese officials wanted to negotiate, but he hadn’t seen them. “Nevertheless, if they come, we will not negotiate with them because the government doesn’t acknowledge Taiwan; we only acknowledge one China.”
The 21 Taiwanese and 14 Chinese nationals are slated to be deported to China on Friday.
Southeast Asia expert Carlyle Thayer, alluding to Cambodia’s debts to China, said that by honouring a “One China” policy, Cambodia risks “shirking its responsibilities under its own laws in order to ingratiate itself with China”.
Additional reporting by Niem Chheng