Taiwan accused Kenyan police Tuesday of forcing 37 of its citizens to board a plane bound for mainland China. The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said Kenyan police used assault rifles and “threw tear gas” Monday to coerce its nationals onto the aircraft, BBC News reported.
Of the 37 Taiwan citizens forced onto the plane, 22 were arrested on suspicion of fraud and 15 were acquitted in the case, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said. Kenya’s Interior Ministry, however, said the people were in the East African nation illegally and were being sent back to where they had come from.
"They came from China and we took them to China,” Mwenda Njoka, spokesman for Kenya's Interior Ministry, told Reuters Tuesday. “Usually when you go to another country illegally, you are taken back to your last port of departure.”
Just 22 countries maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognize it as the Republic of China (ROC). Most other nations, including Kenya, have diplomatic relations with Beijing and support the so-called one China policy, which states that Taiwan is part of China.
“The one China policy is an important precondition for bilateral relations with China and other countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters, when asked about Taiwan’s accusations. “We commend Kenya for its upholding of this policy.”
This is the second group of Taiwanese in Kenya that allegedly has been forcibly deported to China rather than Taiwan this week. Taiwan on Monday accused Beijing, which considers the self-ruled island as a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland, of abducting eight of its citizens. The group of eight were among a total of 23 people who had been cleared of cybercrime charges by a Kenyan court and were given 21 days to leave the country. The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said Beijing pressured Kenyan police to put the eight Taiwanese nationals onto a China-bound jet on Friday, according to Reuters.
“This is an uncivilized act of illegal kidnapping and a serious violation of basic human rights,” the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement, demanding the immediate return of its citizens.
The ROC lost the Chinese Civil War against the Communist Party in 1949. ROC leaders and followers fled to the island of Taiwan while the Communist Party took control of mainland China, establishing the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The ROC currently governs Taiwan and surrounding isles as well as islands in the South China Sea.
However, the PRC has long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan as its 23rd province and refuses to recognize the ROC as Taiwan’s governing body. The PRC has threatened military force if peaceful unification is ultimately rejected or if official Taiwanese independence is declared.