Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) Taiwan on Wednesday repatriated 10 illegal Chinese immigrants, while China sent back one Taiwanese, in an exchange that was carried out under the bilateral Kinmen Agreement.
The exchange was conducted by Taiwan immigration authorities at a port in Taiwan's Matsu island group off southern China and was witnessed by representatives of the Red Cross on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, in keeping with past practice.
The Taiwanese national was taken to Matsu on a Chinese chartered boat that sailed from Mawei Port in Fuzhou in southern China's Fujian Province, flying the Red Cross flag.
When it neared Matsu's Nangan island, it was accompanied into Fu'ao Port by a Taiwanese chartered vessel.
The 10 Chinese nationals were put on the Chinese boat for the return voyage.
They were tourists who had been traveling on a ferry with the intention of sailing to Guam to seek political asylum but ended up in Taiwan after the ferry ran aground off Taoyuan in September 2015, according to Taiwan's National Immigration Agency (NIA).
The ferry was seized by Taiwan's Coast Guard, and the three crew members were convicted under the Immigration Act.
They were among the 10 people repatriated to China on Wednesday, according to the NIA.
The lone Taiwanese national had been arrested by Chinese law enforcement authorities in October 2015 when he attempted to sneak out of Xiamen in Fujian on a ferry and return to Taiwan's Kinmen island.
It was the first time this year that the Taiwan and China carried out a repatriation exercise under the Kinmen Agreement, which was signed in Kinmen on Sept. 12, 1990 by the Red Cross of both sides.
The pact allows representatives from both sides to sort out the thorny issue of repatriating criminals, smugglers and fugitives, in the spirit of humanity and practicality.
(By Chu Tze-wei and Evelyn Kao)