Taiwan Accuses China of Abducting Eight Citizens From Kenya

  • Officials forced group on mainland-bound plane, island says
  • Eight acquitted of telecommunications fraud in African court

Taiwan accused Chinese authorities of "illegally abducting" eight of its citizens facing deportation from Kenya, providing a potential diplomatic test for the island’s incoming president, Tsai Ing-wen.

QuickTake Taiwan’s Tightrope

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday that mainland Chinese officials took "uncivilized action" and obstructed a Kenyan High Court order allowing the Taiwanese to stay in the African nation. The Chinese officials then forced them onto a China Southern Airlines Co. flight bound for the mainland, the foreign ministry in Taipei said in statement.

The eight were among 37 Chinese-speaking individuals -- 23 of whom were Taiwanese -- acquitted of telecommunications fraud on April 5 in Kenya. The court gave them 21 days to stay in the country. The African nation maintains diplomatic relations with China and has no formal ties with Taiwan.

China’s foreign ministry and Taiwan Affairs Office didn’t immediately respond to faxed requests for comment.

The two sides have been separately governed since 1949, when China’s Nationalist government fled to Taiwan in a civil war against the Communists. The island elected Tsai of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party as president in January, following eight years of rapprochement with China under Nationalist President Ma Ying-jeou.

Tsai, who takes office May 20, has so far declined to accept China’s bottom line for continued talks, the so-called one-China principle. Under it, both sides agree they’re part of one China, even if they disagree on what that means.

Mwenda Njoka, a spokesman for Kenya’s Interior Ministry, said the Taiwanese were sent back to China because that was the route they took to enter the country in the first place. They had come to Kenya "illegally, without proper documents," he said.

"There are some still here -- another batch will be deported tomorrow," Njoka said. Asked about Taiwan’s criticism of China, he said, "we don’t want to get involved."

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