NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya has deported 35 Chinese and five Taiwanese to China after they were acquitted on wire fraud charges, a police official said Monday, despite Taiwan's request not to send its nationals to what it considers a separate country.
Taiwan rejects China's claim to the self-governing island. A Taiwanese official based in South Africa, John Chen, had asked Kenya not to send the five Taiwanese to China.
When asked if Kenya had deported the Taiwanese to China, Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said, "Why not?"
The senior police official said all were put on a flight headed for the southern city of Guangzhou on Sunday night. The official insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to share the information.
Forty-five other Taiwanese nationals arrested on similar charges were draped in black hoods and deported to China upon their acquittal in April, according to Amnesty International, which expressed fears they would face human rights violations there. The rights group last week protested the imminent deportation of the five Taiwanese.
In total, 111 people Chinese and Taiwanese have been arrested. Most were deported because they didn't have proper documentation to stay in Kenya.
Analysts say China's goal in accepting the Taiwanese previously deported from Kenya is to extract concessions from Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to endorse Beijing's position that Taiwan and the mainland are part of a single Chinese nation. The two split amid civil war in 1949.
"If deported to China, they could face serious violations of their fair trial rights. There is no doubt Kenya cherishes its relationship with China, but by no means should it sacrifice these individuals' rights for political expediency," said Amnesty East Africa campaigner Victor Odero.
This version corrects to say that John Chen is a Taiwanese official based in South Africa.