TAIPEI — Beijing has said it will be difficult to repatriate the 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects deported to China by the Philippines last week soon, officials from Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said yesterday.
Beijing judicial officials told their Taiwan counterparts by phone Wednesday that it will take quite some time for them to complete their investigations and apprehend other accomplices, as the fraud victims are scattered throughout several Chinese provinces and cities, the MOJ said.
However, the Chinese authorities have acknowledged Taiwan’s official request to send back the 14 Taiwanese in accordance with a cross-strait agreement on judicial cooperation in fighting cross-border crime, the ministry said.
The Philippines on Feb. 2 deported to China 14 Taiwanese and 10 Chinese suspected members of a fraud ring, despite Taiwan’s requests for the Taiwanese to be sent back home.
The issue has sparked a row between Taiwan and the Philippines, with Taiwan protesting strongly against what it said was disrespect of its jurisdiction.
Taiwan has also threatened to take a series of retaliatory actions, including stricter screening of applications by Philippine citizens seeking employment in Taiwan.
Currently, there are around 77,000 Philippine nationals working in Taiwan, mostly in the manufacturing sector.
Meanwhile Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan said Thursday that the Taiwanese suspects will be prosecuted on the basis of the solid investigation records provided by the Chinese side.
Over 1,000 people residing in several Chinese provinces and cities have been defrauded of NT$600 million in total by the Philippines-based criminal ring, according to Lai.
She said that her council will seek to discuss with China the possibility of reviewing the existing cross-strait mechanism for combating crime.
Lai said that many fraud rings that used to operate in Taiwan or southeastern China have moved their bases to Vietnam, the Philippines, or Thailand since the cross-strait judicial cooperation pact took effect in June 2009.
This new situation calls for a revision of the pact to extend the anti-crime efforts to other countries besides Taiwan and China, she said.