PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia has deported 50 Chinese and 13 Taiwanese citizens to China over an alleged internet scam, complying with demands from Beijing, a senior police official said Wednesday.
The suspects were flown out of Cambodia on Tuesday, said Gen. Ouk Haiseila, chief of the Cambodian Interior Ministry's Immigration Investigation Bureau. He said the Chinese government sent a special plane from Beijing to take them back.
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.
The latest group of 63 suspects was arrested late last month in a rented house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. They were accused of defrauding victims in China using phone calls made over the internet.
Since 2012, at least 982 Chinese and Taiwanese accused of taking part in internet scams have been arrested and deported back to China, according to Ouk Haiseila.
Although Taiwan's constitution formally decrees that it and the Chinese 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.