Taipei protests Jakarta's deportation of Taiwanese suspects to China

Taiwan Foreign Ministry expressed regret for Indonesia's deportation of 18 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China

143 telecom fraud suspects being deported from Indonesia to China. (By Central News Agency)

Taiwan on Thursday expressed regret for Indonesia's deportation of 18 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China.

"We would like to express our serious concern. We deeply regret the result," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang told a news conference.

Early media reports from Jakarta said that 22 Taiwanese nationals were deported with 121 Chinese suspects to China from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. They were on two flights heading for Chengdu and Tianjin.

However, the ministry said late Thursday that only 18 Taiwanese suspects were sent to China and the remaining four were still detained in Indonesia.

Wang told dpa that Taiwan's representatives in Indonesia were still handling the case, demanding the deportation of the four Taiwanese nationals back to Taiwan.

The 143 suspects, who are believed to be part of a trans-national organized crime ring, entered Indonesia as tourists. They were wanted for impersonating Chinese police and scamming businessmen and politicians. The scam had earned about 450 million US dollars, Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency reported on Thursday.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council protested Beijing's interference, urging Beijing to return the Taiwanese suspects to Taiwan as soon as possible.

There is no formal diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Indonesia. Taiwan has been facing similar challenges involving countries with whom it lacks diplomatic ties. Last week, Cambodia, under pressure from Beijing, deported seven Taiwanese fraud suspects to China.

In Thailand, Taiwan's official representatives have been dealing with the Thai police, which temporarily halted a plan to deport 25 Taiwanese suspects to China on July 27. The 25 Taiwanese nationals remain detained in Thailand and the case is still under investigation, according to the ministry.

Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, has had a separate government since Chinese Nationalists fled there in 1949 after losing a civil war to Communists in China. China considers Taiwan part of its territory.