The Taiwan government is accusing China of kidnapping eight Taiwanese citizens after Kenyan authorities deported them to China rather than to Taiwan.
The Nation reported 37 suspects, including 23 Taiwanese, were found not guilty of cyber crime charges Tuesday by a Kenya court and were given 21 days to leave the country.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry says China pressured Kenyan police to put eight of the Taiwanese nationals on to a Chinese jet bound for China on Friday.
Kenyan authorities said the deportation to China was a response to pressure from Beijing.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry demanded an “immediate” return of the eight people calling their deportation "an uncivilized act of illegal kidnapping and a serious violation of basic human rights.”
Taiwan had sent officials from its representative office in South Africa to Kenya to try to deal with the case because it has no office in Kenya, the Foreign Ministry added. It said despite a court order that would have kept the eight Taiwanese in Kenya, Chinese officials obstructed its officials efforts by delaying the court order and preventing Taiwan's representative from reaching the acquitted.
The ministry said by the time Taiwanese officials arrived at the airport, the eight Taiwan citizens had been “forcefully taken to a passenger plane of China Southern Airlines and sent to the mainland.”
“This has not only harmed the fundamental human rights [of the eight], but has hurt Taiwan people’s feeling and severe negative impacts on ties between the two sides,” Shih Hui-fen, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he “needed to further understand the situation” when asked about it during a Monday news briefing.
Beijing views Taiwan as a wayward province, to be brought under China's control by force if necessary. Defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 after a civil war with the Communists now in control in Beijing.
Only 22 countries recognize Taiwan, with most, including Kenya, having diplomatic relations with Beijing, recognizing its "one China" policy.