This content is not available in your region

Chinese activist returns voluntarily says Taiwan

Access to the comments Comments
By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
Chinese activist returns voluntarily says Taiwan

<p>Taiwan says a Chinese activist has voluntarily flown back to China, averting a potential diplomatic tussle.</p> <p>Taiwanese authorities say that Zhang Xiangzhong met immigration officials reviewing his case and decided it would be the “best solution” to return to China on Wednesday.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="fr"align="center"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Taiwan reviews political asylum bid by Chinese tourist Zhang Xiangzhong <a href="https://t.co/yvV8Lu2Any">https://t.co/yvV8Lu2Any</a> <a href="https://t.co/VpErqLmVqa">pic.twitter.com/VpErqLmVqa</a></p>— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) <a href="https://twitter.com/HongKongFP/status/854241128123580416">18 avril 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h3><strong>What happened?</strong></h3> <p>Taiwan’s immigration authorities say Zhang was picked up on the street on Monday evening.</p> <p>His whereabouts had been unknown since he left his tour group last week, according to National Immigration Agency officials.</p> <h3><strong>Did he make a formal request?</strong></h3> <p>Officials have not said.</p> <p>Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council says they are open to any request.</p> <p>“He left his group without notice. From the perspective of our tourism regulation, the immigration authorities absolutely have the authority to apprehend him,” <strong><span class="caps">MAC</span> vice-chairman Chiu Chui-cheng</strong> told reporters.</p> <p>“If he intentionally overstays in Taiwan, the immigration authorities can deport him after an investigation.”</p> <p>“We can send him back, according to the tourism agreement between both sides.”</p> <p>Wary of provoking Beijing’s anger, Taiwan does not officially offer asylum to Chinese nationals, but it occasionally allows “long term” stays for political refugees.</p> <p>There are currently ten such cases in Taiwan.</p> <h3><strong>Who is Zhang Xiangzhong?</strong></h3> <p>According to media reports, he was released from prison in 2016 after a three-year sentence related to his involvement in the New Citizens’ Movement in China.</p> <p>The group advocates working within the system to press for change and clean up corruption.</p> <p>Zhang, from Shandong province, says the source of inspiration for his asylum request is the wife of Taiwanese activist Li Ming-che.</p> <p>She has been attempting to free her husband who is currently held by China on suspicion of activities harmful to national security.</p> <h3><strong>Are defections a common occurrence?</strong></h3> <p>No. Defections from China to Taiwan are fairly infrequent.</p> <p>Beijing keeps a tight control on dissidents leaving the country and few would risk a crossing by sea over the heavily-patrolled strait dividing the mainland from the island.</p> <h3><strong>China and Taiwan – what’s the story?</strong></h3> <p>Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the Communists.</p> <p>China regards Taiwan as a wayward province. Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island back under its control.</p> <p>Proudly-democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being run by Communist Party rulers in Beijing.</p> <p>However, cross-straits investment has flourished since a thaw began in the 1980s.</p> <p>Relations ran into problems last year after the Democratic Progressive Party was elected – it espouses formal independence from China.</p>