“If you know it is a scam ring, do not participate in it. Do not make the world
think that Taiwanese are all involved in these kinds of [shady] businesses,” he said.
Vox had a nifty piece on the Kenya deportation mess which tried to explain what is going on. Unlike most of the pieces in the media, this once actually referred, if sketchily, to the cross-strait organized crime nexus.
These Taiwanese have attracted such interest from Beijing because they are allegedly members of Chinese and Taiwanese criminal gangs who frequently work together, Richard Bush, director of the East Asia Policy Center at the Brookings Institution, explained to me.Kudos to someone for actually pointing that out.
Let's explore this for a second. There's a massive outpouring of indignant nationalist feeling, coupled with government protests and legislative posturing, right now in Taiwan, directed at China.
What's China? It's that wonderland where scores of Taiwanese criminals from local gangsters to corporate embezzlers, people largely connected to A Certain Political Party, have fled while on bail. There they reside in perfect safety, unmolested by either the Chinese or Taiwanese governments. The Taiwan government has obstinately refused to close this loophole despite long-simmering public anger about it. No complicity there!
But let's also remember, as I am fond of pointing out, that one of the chief beneficiaries of the cross-strait rapproachment and business investment over the last two decades is cross-strait organized crime, which operates banks, stolen art networks, and movement of individuals for escape from the law, sex work, and ordinary labor. Neither government disturbs these extensive networks. Indeed there are places where spouses of major criminal figures involved in these cross-strait criminal networks have run for public office under the umbrella of A Certain Political Party. It's these networks that facilitate the escape of wanted individuals from Taiwan to China. It's these networks, as China correctly if hypocritically notes, that operate globally, and move as pressure on them shifts.
You'll forgive me if, looking at this Kenya case, I've come to the cynical conclusion that the Taiwan government is only worried about its criminals going to China if there is some possibility that they might actually be prosecuted.
Two other things need to be pointed out. First, was this move in Kenya directed at the incoming DPP Administration? Don't make me laugh. It had nothing to do with that. It was, as I said yesterday, part of China's campaign against phone scammers around the Indo-Pacific rim. China itself said this over a year ago.
Here is a report from the Kenyan newspaper The Nation (ah, does that bring back memories) dated Jan 15, 2015 (and CS Monitor but The Nation report is better). Please note that this was a year ago:
The Chinese Government has formally asked Kenya to hand over 76 of its citizens who are facing cyber-crime charges in Nairobi.So... anyone want to argue that the PRC government, 16 months ago, presciently arranged to have 8 of the Taiwanese suspects sent to jail for a year on bogus document charges (oh yeah -- acquitted on "all charges"? Bullshit!) so that the group could be bundled onto a plane right on time for it to be a message to the newly-elected Tsai Ing-wen Administration? Be serious.
The suspects arrested in Nairobi had stolen close to Sh1.5 billion from their victims in China through electronic fraud, Chinese authorities revealed, as they pushed Kenya to have them extradited.
According to the police in Nairobi, the 76 Chinese and one Thai national were arrested in the upmarket Runda Estate for operating an illegal telecommunications system.
China’s argument has been that the suspects are part of a global syndicate targeting China and that other groups had been arrested in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Egypt over the last two years.
In December, a Chinese police team came to Nairobi to, according to the embassy, “jointly investigate” the case with their Kenyan counterparts. However, the group is said to have pressed for a handover of the suspects.
But let's yak for a minute about "due process". Suddenly lots of people talking about due process. Well, the report from a year ago clearly indicates that China was asking about this well over a year ago. Taiwan had over a year to publicize the case and to secure due process, if it cared to.
Due process? Two cases this week -- a bunch of alleged Taiwanese scammers were repatriated from Indonesia. No noise from Beijing, as I noted in the post below. Another crew deported from Malaysia as well. China had reportedly asked about them, but from the media reports it wasn't clear whether Kuala Lumpur had decided to check with Beijing, or whether Beijing had acted on its own.
What happened to the crowd from Malaysia? As soon as they arrived in Taiwan, they were released, due to a "lack of evidence." An NPP legislator was out today complaining the whole thing was a setup. Indeed a KMT politician admitted yesterday that light sentences for criminals returned to Taiwan were a problem.
When asked how the KMT caucus would respond to speculation that the Kenya incident was a warning from Beijing against the new government, Lin said: “We have to face reality as well; we had given light sentences to the fraudsters after they were extradited back to Taiwan, which had resulted in certain consequences.”Note that the question asked whether Beijing was warning the new Administration. A KMT politician, instead of running with this softball question and lambasting the incoming Administration, refocused the incident on a real complaint: the kid gloves Taiwan gangsters get, not the sexy cross-strait framework that sells papers and enables international media workers and commenters to avoid cognitively demanding tasks like searching Kenyan newspapers on Google. My god! Beer please.
More seriously, the KMT politician essentially said what everyone knows: the government is complicit. Period.
Complicit. So if you talk to me about due process, I'm going to talk to you about complicity. Why on earth would any government send accused Taiwanese back to Taiwan? You are entitled to ask about due process only when you engage in it. Of course China very rationally grabbed those Taiwanese alleged scammers. The bad guys were going to get away, and China had been pursuing them for ages.
That release of accused scammers from Malaysia was exactly what China had complained about: when prisoners get sent back to Taiwan, they are immediately released. The KMT government goes right ahead and validates the Chinese complaint in the most clueless, arrogant manner possible: right in the middle of this hoo-ha, it releases a batch of returned accused criminals. It did this even though 32 accused remain in Malaysia, almost as if it were goading China to apply more pressure. It couldn't have at least gone through the motions of keeping them in custody for a few days?
Luckily for all concerned, the government took a strong stance:
In a statement issued Saturday, Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said Premier Simon Chang (張善政) made it clear that the government will not condone any criminal acts involving its nationals, during a meeting held on related issues Friday.It will, however, release them as soon as they get to Taiwanese soil.
I guess due process applies only to Taiwanese gangsters in Kenya. Once they are in Taiwan, foreign governments don't get any "due process" to work up a case against them and the victims lose all their "due process". Never mind that the alleged criminals are free to go back to their alleged work, defrauding victims both local and international, who aren't important anyway because they are victims, sheep born to be sheared, in the due process of things as they are. Poo-tee-weet.
Meanwhile the legislature was screaming that China really ought to show the evidence against the deportees. LOL. Despite overwrought claims that cross-strait agreements on crime were dead, the Taiwan government is sending a large delegation to China to handle the case on Monday.
So what is all this nationalistic noise about? Seems like there was some serious la-de-da in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in getting these people back to Taiwan -- if that is what was wanted. Maybe all this noise is to conceal the fact that MOFA simply screwed up or really just didn't give a damn about the fate of a bunch of alleged vicious low-lives -- or worse, tossed China a bone by permitting the suspects to be deported there, then pretended to be upset about it.
It's not a coincidence that outpourings of puerile nationalism occurred when the alleged illegal fisherman was killed in Phils a couple of years ago, and again when some alleged gangsters are sent off to China. Like I said two days ago, all this static is just white noise concealing a basic fact nobody wants to talk about: from tuna poachers to phone scammers, one of Taiwan's chief exports is organized crime.
UPDATE: I was wrong. The Thai national was returned to Thailand.
- DON'T MISS: Niki Alsford with a great piece reminiscing on Taiwan studies and the development of Taiwan as a thing in itself to be studied.
- It's not clear, but it looks like in this Reuters report on the broadcast confessions that 77 people were sent to China from Kenya, including 1 Thai national. But this is all about Taiwanese, you know, and cross-strait and shit. My head hurts.
- Legislature slams China on deportees. Yawn.
- More rain on way, because I know you're already missing the rain today.
- Still noisemaking about the Senkakus, the Ma Administration attempts to help China again before it leaves office.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!