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2 Chinese asylum seekers allowed into Taiwan after 4-month limbo

2019/01/31 16:12:49

Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) Two Chinese asylum seekers who have been stuck in limbo at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for four months were finally allowed into Taiwan.

The pair, 44-year-old Yan Kefen (顏克芬) and 64-year-old Liu Xinglian (劉興聯), entered Taiwan late Wednesday on the basis of "professional exchanges," after exiting the country briefly by flying to an undisclosed country earlier that day.

They were then picked up at the airport by Taiwanese friends and taken separately to prearranged accommodations.

The two now hope that the United States or Canada will grant them asylum status.

Yan and Liu arrived at the airport Sept. 27 last year on a flight from Thailand and were scheduled to continue onward to Beijing but did not get on the outbound flight.

Instead, they put in a claim for asylum on grounds of political persecution in China, but they could not provide any supporting evidence, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government agency responsible for cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, said at the time.

Without valid documents to enter Taiwan, the two men had been confined to a fluorescent-lit fourth-floor room in a restricted area inside the airport.

Liu said in a previous interview that the lights in the room were the only thing he saw every day and that with his body clock messed up, "sometimes I couldn't tell day from night."

Yan told CNA that life in the airport was "alright," although he complained of stress and suffered chest pain as there was not enough room to move around and stretch.

"I haven't slept in a real bed for a long time," he said.

On Jan. 24, the MAC said they could enter Taiwan on the basis of "professional exchanges" until they can be granted asylum in a third country, but will first have to exit and then re-enter the country.

Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元), a board member of the New School for Democracy, said Jan. 25 that he was willing to act as guarantor for the two asylum seekers and that his decision was based solely on human rights considerations. (Wu Jui-chi and Chung Yu-chen)

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