China jails 44 Taiwanese telecom fraudstersChina | 22 Dec 2017
China sentenced 44 Taiwanese to prison yesterday for telecom fraud following their extradition from Kenya in a move likely to further sour cross-strait ties.
The Taiwanese were among a group sentenced to between 21 months and 15 years in prison and slapped with fines, the Beijing Second Intermediate People's Court said on its official account on Weibo.
The question of how to deal with Taiwanese arrested abroad has become a sensitive diplomatic issue, with Taipei protesting that suspects should be returned to the self-ruled island, rather than the mainland.
Ties between Beijing and Taipei have worsened since President Tsai Ing-wen took office last year over her refusal to acknowledge the island as part of "one China."
Taipei has in the past accused Beijing of "abducting" Taiwanese suspected of committing fraud abroad and taking them to China.
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng expressed "deep regret and dissatisfaction" over the sentencing.
"We insist that Taiwanese suspects involved in cross-border telecom fraud cases should return to Taiwan to face investigation, trial and serve the sentence according to the law," he said at a regular press briefing yesterday.
"We urge the Chinese side to communicate and negotiate with us for the interests of the people to seek resolutions in terms of joint crime-fighting to eradicate fraud groups."
The council has stated that it has intelligence on "the key suspect behind the crime" and called on China to cooperate with Taiwan security authorities "as soon as possible."
The telecom case is the latest to involve the international deportation of Taiwanese suspects, and analysts see the cases as part of Beijing's bid to pile pressure on Tsai.