Beijing, Feb. 22 (CNA) Beijing on Wednesday insisted that Spain deport more than 200 suspects, including Taiwanese and Chinese citizens, recently arrested in the country for alleged telecom fraud to China, on the grounds that the victims were all Chinese.
China's remarks came after Taiwan protested over the issue.
An Fengshan (安峰山), spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, said at a regular news briefing that all the suspects should be deported to China for further investigation because all the victims and evidence pertaining to the case were there.
Bringing all the suspects to China would help with the investigation, facilitate the fight against telecom fraud and protect the rights of the victims, he said in response to reporters' questions.
A total of 269 suspects were arrested in December, in a joint operation between Spain and China. So far, 218 have been identified as Taiwanese citizens, according to Taiwan's representative office in Spain.
The fraud ring has been charged with defrauding Chinese nationals in China out of a total of 16 million euros (U$16.84 million), Spanish police said.
The Spanish government decided on Feb. 17 to accept the demand from Beijing for extradition to China of all 269 suspects, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The decision drew a strong protest from the ministry, which said that it infringed upon the rights of the Taiwanese nationals and ran counter to the European tradition of humanitarianism.
Spain's representative to Taiwan Jose Luis Echaniz Cobas was twice summoned to the ministry, where officials expressed the government's concern over the issue and urged the Spanish government to respect the wishes of the Taiwanese suspects and send them home after completing its judicial process.
Taiwan's Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) also criticized China for seeking to extradite Taiwanese nationals to China, saying Beijing's "unilateral" decision undermines the foundation of cross-strait cooperation and mutual trust.
The MAC called on Beijing to recognize that justice is best served by the two sides of the Taiwan Strait sharing legal jurisdiction over the case.
The Spanish government's decision will be reviewed by the judicial branch before it can be carried out. A court is expected to rule on the matter in early March.
This is not the first time Beijing has sought to have Taiwanese fraud suspects deported to China to face investigation. There have been several cases in recent years in which Taiwanese fraud suspects arrested in Kenya, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines and other countries, were deported to China, at the request of Beijing, which claimed the victims were predominantly in China.
(By Miu Chung-han, Emmanuelle Tzeng and Elaine Hou)