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Taiwan lodges protest after Armenia deports Taiwanese fraud suspects to mainland China

Taiwan’s government has lodged a protest after the Armenian government deported 78 Taiwanese suspected of telecom fraud to mainland China, the latest flare-up in tensions between Beijing and Taipei over such deportations.

Taiwan has been angered by several incidents this year in which countries around the world, including Kenya, Cambodia and Malaysia, have deported Taiwanese wanted on fraud charges back to the mainland rather than to Taiwan.

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Mainland China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and most countries have diplomatic ties with Beijing rather than Taipei and officially recognise that the island is part of China.

The state-run news agency Xinhua said late on Wednesday that Armenian police had deported 129 Chinese telecom fraud suspects, including 78 from Taiwan to China.

The suspects were arrested when Armenian police raided six locations on August 20, seizing a large amount of equipment including computers and smart phones, Xinhua said.

China’s Public Security Ministry sent a team to Armenia to deal with the issue on August 26, the report added.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the island’s top mainland China policymaking body, said it had expressed deep regret and a strong protest to Beijing at the move.

The mainland has said previously it has a right to extradite these people as they are suspected of defrauding Chinese nationals and have caused great distress and harm.

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Xinhua said the Armenia-based fraudsters “had been falsely presenting themselves as law enforcement officers to extort money from people on the Chinese mainland through telephone calls”.

They cheated people out of more than 7 million yuan (HK$8.1 million), it added.

Beijing has informed Taiwan about the case, Xinhua said.