The controversial deportation of 14 Taiwanese by the Philippines to China showed the extent of pressure Beijing could bring to bear on the country, and is indicative of a possibility that the Philippines could be the first country along the first “island chain barrier” that China could break, a government official said yesterday.
“China could exert unimaginable pressure on Manila because it has several billions of US dollars in loans and foreign aid in the country,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Hopefully the case might be a chance for the Philippines to pay more attention to its relationship with Taiwan and realize the nature of its relationship with China, he said, referring to the protest Taipei lodged with Manila.
“The relationship between Taiwan and the Philippines is bound to be hurt because of the incident,” he said.
The Philippines deported 14 Taiwanese and 10 Chinese — suspected of being part of an international fraud ring targeting Chinese — on a Chinese charter flight that departed Manila after midnight on Wednesday. The suspects were escorted of Chinese public security officers.
They had been arrested on Dec. 27 on fraud charges. The ring is estimated to have made about NT$600 million (US$20.6 million).
Taiwan’s representative office in Manila, the Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), had obtained a restraining order from the appeals court in Manila to block the deportation, but it went ahead.
The director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ department of treaty and legal affairs, Yang Kuo-tung (楊國棟), said the ministry had sought a retaining order after its initial request for the Taiwanese to be returned to Taiwan was rejected.
That the deportation was carried out even though the case was under judicial review showed the pressure for the deportation came from Philippine President Benito Aquino III’s administration, Yang said.
The Philippine government had no reason to deport the Taiwanese to China, since TECO had presented sufficient information before the deportation to prove the 14 were Taiwanese nationals, the anonymous official said.
“Although their passports were confiscated by the Chinese officers, who gave them Taiwanese compatriot travel documents (台胞證), this did not constitute a reason for them being deported to China,” the anonymous official said.
The Philippines Presidential Office had a provisional meeting on Tuesday, and was reportedly planning to issue a statement afterwards, the ministry said. However, the ministry had not received any information about the statement as of press time last night.
In related developments, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) said the Ministry of Justice has contacted China’s Ministry of Public Security, and demanded the extradition of the Taiwanese to Taiwan as soon as possible.
The Chinese ministry said it would look into the matter after the Lunar New Year holiday, Chen said.