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Chinese activist says he plans to ask for political asylum

2017/04/15 21:44:39

Photo Courtesy of RFA Chinese YouTube

Taipei, April 15 (CNA) Chinese activist Zhang Xiangzhong (張向忠), who left his tour group on Thursday and whose whereabouts are currently unknown, indicated online that he plans to request political asylum from the Mainland Affairs Council - the nation's top China policy planning agency, next Tuesday.

Zhang, who arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday as part of a tour group on an eight-day trip, said time permitting he will call on the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights, a non-government organization set up in 2011, which he said had assisted him with temporary accommodation.

In response to reports about Zhang's plan to ask for political asylum, the MAC said that if Chinese nationals apply for asylum, the government agency in charge of such matters, the National Immigration Agency (NIA), will conduct an investigation in accordance with related regulations.

However, it added that no application for asylum has yet been received from Zhang.

The MAC said that after Zhang left his group, the tourist guide from the travel agency hosting the group immediately notified the Tourism Bureau and reported the matter to the police.

The Tourism Bureau then notified the MAC, the National Police Agency and the NIA, but Zhang's whereabouts remain a mystery.

The MAC said that related agencies will continue to try and make contact with Zhang to learn more about his intentions.

Radio Free Asia, in an interview with Zhang, also conducted online, reported Friday that he was inspired by the wife of Lee Ming-che (李明哲) in deciding to ask for political asylum.

Lee, a former Democratic Progressive Party worker who is currently a staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei and a volunteer at local NGO Covenants Watch, was detained in China after entering the city of Zhuhai via Macau on March 19.

Lee's wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), had planned to travel to Beijing on April 10 to meet with Chinese authorities and seek clarification about her husband's situation, but was turned away at the airport after being informed that her travel permit to China had been revoked.

Zhang, 48, is from Shandong province. He said in the interview that he was jailed for three years after taking part in the New Citizens Movement, a group that calls for a civic spirit based on freedom, justice and love.

Since being released in July 2016, Zhang said he has been under constant surveillance.

(By Miao Tsung-han and Lilian Wu)