China jails 85, including dozens of Taiwanese, over wire fraud

In this photo taken April 13, 2016, and released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese and Taiwanese suspects involved in wire fraud are escorted off a plane upon arriving at Beijing International Airport in Beijing, China. (Via AP)
A court in Beijing has jailed 85 people, including dozens of Taiwanese, for cross-border phone scams that targeted Chinese nationals.
In rulings issued Thursday, the No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in the Chinese capital handed own 15-year jail sentences to two Taiwanese people Zhang Kaimin and Lin Jinde.
The other 83 defendants, including 42 Taiwanese, were also sentenced to up to 14 years in prison and were ordered to pay fines.
The court's website said the convicts had been involved in running phone scams in Indonesia and Kenya against people in mainland China, adding that the offenders had impersonated officials at police bureaus and other government agencies in phone calls with mainland residents.
The statement said that more than 29 million yuan ($4.4 million) had been defrauded from a total of 185 people.
The imprisonment of Taiwanese people in China is the latest to come amid strained ties with Taiwan.
China and Taiwan split amid a civil war in 1949, and relations have been tense since then. Beijing maintains that self-ruled Taiwan has no sovereign legal status, is part of China’s mainland and therefore subject to a diplomatic protocol known as “One China,” according to which other countries should acknowledge Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
However, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party advocates Taiwan’s formal “independence.” Taiwan wants its nationals implicated in legal cases in China and elsewhere to face prosecution at home.
Several countries, including Malaysia, Cambodia and Kenya, have arrested Taiwanese suspects over the past years only to hand them over to Chinese authorities. Most of them have been Taiwanese charged with wire fraud in Kenya and their deportations have come over lack of proper documentation to stay.