Cambodia deports 39 to China, including 25 Taiwanese

Cambodia on Friday deported 39 suspected criminals to mainland China, including 25 Taiwanese whom Beijing insists it has jurisdiction over despite protests from Taipei.

The chief of the Interior Ministry's Immigration Investigation Bureau, Gen. Ouk Haiseila, said the 25 Taiwanese and 14 Chinese were sent on a special plane dispatched by the Chinese government.

He said they were sent to China because they had committed crimes against Chinese citizens. They are accused of defrauding victims in China using phone calls made over the internet, which complicated tracing them. He earlier said earlier this week they would be sent to China because Cambodia regards Taiwan to be part of China.

Originally Cambodia planned to deport 35 people, but four more were arrested in raids this past week, Haiseila said.

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.