Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) Taiwan's government on Thursday strongly protested Cambodia's decision to deport 46 Republic of China (Taiwan) citizens, arrested last month for their alleged involvement in telecommunications fraud, to China earlier that day.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said the 46 Taiwanese were among 235 suspects arrested in Cambodia on Nov. 26.
After learning of the arrests, Taiwan's representative office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which is also responsible for dealing with matters relating to Cambodia, immediately called the Cambodian side indicating it planned to send representatives to visit the Taiwanese nationals in custody and urged the Cambodian government to honor the "nationality principle" by deporting the suspects to Taiwan.
However, the requests were rejected due to Cambodia's support for the One-China principle that considers Taiwan part of China, Lee noted. Following a request from Beijing, the Cambodian government deported the 46 R.O.C. nationals to China early Thursday.
"The ministry has expressed our grave concern and deep regret over the decision," the spokesman noted.
Meanwhile, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the nation's top China policy agency, also issued a statement expressing deep regret and a strong protest over the deportations.
"China's action is detrimental to the positive development of cross-strait relations," the MAC said.
MAC said it has asked China to provide personal information on the Taiwanese nationals once they arrive in China, in accordance with the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement, so that their legal rights can be protected.
China is also required to grant visitation rights to their families based on humanitarian principles.
The MAC called on Beijing to move away from preconceived ideas and political obstruction that could hurt the development of cross-strait ties, and instead work with Taiwan to jointly fight crime based on the existing bilateral foundation for cooperation.