A setback for Chinese, Taiwanese relations with Kenya
A serious diplomatic row between China and Taiwan is brewing, and Kenya is caught in between. The genesis of this started in November 2014 when 77 people were arrested by Kenyan authorities under the suspicion of running online fraud schemes and illegal call centres, as well as illegal entry. Of those 77, 49 were Chinese citizens and the remaining 28 Taiwanese. Members of this fraud ring apparently came to Kenya in the hopes of finding blue collar jobs but eventually fell into crime when that proved unsuccessful.
After over a year in and out of the courts, 37 of the original number were declared not guilty and acquitted by the Kenyan court on April 5. 28 of the 37 acquitted were Taiwanese citizens, and by April 8, eight Taiwanese were forcefully put on a plane bound for China by the Kenyan police. In this complex situation with several numbers and dates, what emerges is that Taiwanese citizens who were acquitted of crimes accused were extradited to the wrong country.
It is unclear whether Chinese authorities in Nairobi placed pressure on Kenyan officials to release Taiwanese citizens to them. It must be noted however that Kenya does not have formal direct relations with Taiwan. China has stated that it will retry the alleged criminals for the same charges because the fraud ring targeted Chinese citizens and managed to scam them out of millions of yuan. Regardless of this justification, Taiwan has called for the immediate repatriation of its nationals.
According to Taiwan, which is an independent country despite mainland China’s assertion that it is a territory, China’s actions were an “extrajudicial abduction” and a “violation of human rights.” This is not the first time concerns that China has acted illegally with citizens of Taiwan have emerged. In 2011, a similar situation occurred when some Taiwanese citizens thought to be involved in an investment scam were deported to China from the Philippines.
Was Kenya right to deport the eight Taiwanese citizens to China? Let us know your opinions by leaving a comment below or reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta