Another diplomatic storm is brewing across the strait, with Taiwan angrily accusing Beijing of “illegally” forcing Kenya into deporting Taiwanese residents direct to the mainland.
This incident involves a group of 37 Chinese-speaking individuals — including 23 Taiwanese — who were recently acquitted by a Kenyan court of telecommunications fraud on April 5th after initially being arrested in November 2014. The group were then given 21 days to leave the country.
A statement by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released earlier today accuses mainland Chinese officials of pressuring Kenyan officials to deport eight Taiwanese by putting them on a China Southern Airlines flight on Friday bound for the mainland. Taiwan wants those eight returned.
“This has not only harmed the fundamental human rights (of the eight), but has hurt Taiwan people’s feelings and has severe negative impacts on ties between the two sides,” said Shih Hui-fen, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, according to the AFP.
China became just the fourth country to open an embassy in Nairobi, on December 14, 1963, only two days after Kenya declared independence. Meanwhile, the African nation has no formal ties with Taiwan.
For the last two decades, China and Taiwan have been operating under the “1992 Consensus,” which says that there is only one China, but each side can have their own vastly different interpretation of what exactly that means.
The landslide election in January of Tsai Ing-wen as president, along with a legislative majority for her Democratic Progressive Party has upset cross-strait relations that were warming during Ma Ying-jeou’s eight years in office. Tsai will take office on May 20th, but Beijing has warned that continued talks will only be possible if her new government agrees to the “1992 Consensus.”
In March, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the National People’s Congress that China will never allow the tragedy of Taiwan being separated from the rest of the country to happen again.
“We will resolutely contain ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist activities in any form, safeguard the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and never allow the historical tragedy of the nation being split to happen again,” Xi said.
“This is the common wish and firm will of all Chinese people. It is also our solemn commitment and our responsibility to history and the people,” he added.