TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan and China are fighting out a tug-of-war over the imminent deportation of 25 Taiwanese fraud suspects from Thailand, reports said Saturday.
For over a year, several countries have detained members of electronic and phone fraud rings, mostly Chinese and Taiwanese citizens. In most of those cases the victims were reportedly residents of China, leading Beijing to demand that all of the suspects be handed to its judiciary. As most of the countries involved were China’s diplomatic allies, only a few of the suspects were deported to Taiwan.
In the latest incident, Thai and Chinese police cooperated to pick up 44 suspects, including 25 Taiwanese nationals, in two separate raids on locations in the beach resort of Pattaya and in the province of Samut Prakarn just south of Bangkok, reports said.
In both cases, the groups had rented local houses and impersonated justice or tax officials to embezzle money from residents of China.
Beijing had asked the Thai authorities to deport all the suspects to China, including the Taiwanese citizens, reports said.
Since Taiwan and Thailand concluded a judicial cooperation agreement in 2013, there usually was no problem in having Taiwanese suspects deported to the island, but due to pressure from Beijing, that might change for the first time.
Taiwan’s representative office in Bangkok was making the utmost effort to persuade Thailand to stick to its practice. The Thai authorities were expected to hold a news conference on Sunday at which they would announce their decision about the fate of the fraud suspects.
At the moment, another seven Taiwanese suspects are being held in a similar situation in neighboring Cambodia, with China also demanding their deportation.