PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodian police arrested 64 people from mainland China and Taiwan on Tuesday, accusing them of taking part in an internet scam, officials said.
Initial information shows that at least 12 of the suspects are from Taiwan, while the rest are mainland Chinese, said Gen. Ouk Haiseila, chief of the Cambodian Interior Ministry's Immigration Investigation Bureau.
The general said the suspects were arrested in a rented house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. They are accused of defrauding victims in China using phone calls made over the internet, he said.
"These suspects are now detained by immigration police for questioning and then we will deport them back to China," Gen. Ouk Haiseila said.
In June, Taiwan protested after Cambodia deported 25 Taiwanese internet scam suspects to rival China in the latest snub of the self-ruled island. Cambodia regards Taiwan to be part of China.
Although Taiwan's constitution formally decrees that it and the mainland are part of a single Chinese nation, Taiwan functions like an independent country and does not acknowledge Beijing's claim of authority over it.
Rights activists and Taiwanese authorities say such deportations reflect the great influence China exercises over Cambodia through aid and investment.
China is a key ally and economic partner of impoverished Cambodia. It has provided millions of dollars in aid and investment over the past decade, agreed to write off debts and granted it tariff-free status for hundreds of items.
Kenya and Malaysia have also deported Taiwanese internet scam suspects to China despite protests by Taiwanese officials.