China and Taiwan should hold talks as soon as possible over establishing a way to effectively combat telecom scams aimed at Chinese, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said on Thursday.
On Wednesday — five days after the event — China informed the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) that 78 Taiwanese, along with 51 Chinese, were taken to Guangzhou, China, from Armenia on charges of being involved in a telecom scam that defrauded Chinese, the bureau said.
MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said the council has lodged a protest with China and urged Beijing to return the Taiwanese suspects to Taiwan to be investigated and to stand trial if warranted.
Chiu also urged China to allow family members of the Taiwanese suspects to visit them in Guangzhou detention centers, in accordance with the 2009 Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議).
Only through cross-strait cooperation can cross-border crimes be effectively managed, he said, adding that Taiwan and China have since 2011 collaborated successfully to fight crime.
According to the bureau, it was informed by China of the arrival of the 78 Taiwanese suspects in Guangzhou at 2pm on Wednesday, but they arrived there on Sept. 2.
Chinese media reported that the Armenia-based 129-member operation was the largest alleged telecom fraud ring targeting Chinese ever uncovered overseas.
The ring targeted Chinese in more than 10 provinces and cities, the reports said.
A police force of more than 300 was mobilized to repatriate them to China.
A senior bureau officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Chinese police used to routinely inform their Taiwanese counterparts of the names of Taiwanese suspects and detail evidence of any suspected crimes.
However, such cross-strait cooperation was suspended after China cut off official channels of communication with Taiwan following the election of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Legislators of both the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) expressed hope that the cross-strait communication mechanism would be re-established to facilitate the fight against cross-border crimes.
Taiwan should seek to build trust with China by assuring it that Taiwanese convicted of telecom crimes targeting Chinese would be severely punished in Taiwan, DPP Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.
Taiwanese fraudsters are swindling money out of innocent people all across the world, Lin said, adding that “it’s a national shame,” and the government should “do something about it.”
KMT Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said that with the current impasse, Taiwanese do not even know if the suspects will get a fair trial in China.
“How much longer will such a deadlock continue?” Lee asked.
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