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Chinese asylum seeker arrives in Canada after 290 days in Taiwan

2019/07/21 15:41

Chinese dissident Liu Xinglian CNA file photo

Taipei, July 21 (CNA) Chinese national Liu Xinglian (劉興聯), who had been in limbo in Taiwan for 290 days seeking asylum, arrived in Canada on Saturday, a Taiwanese who had served as Liu's guarantor during most of his time in Taiwan told CNA Sunday.

Liu departed Taiwan on a China Airlines flight at 11:35 p.m. Saturday night and arrived in Vancouver around 8 p.m. local time, said Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元), chairman of New School For Democracy (NSD), a non-governmental organization in Taiwan that promotes democracy in the Chinese-speaking world.

Meanwhile, exiled Chinese poet Bei Ling (貝嶺), who lives in Taiwan, said in a Facebook post Sunday that Liu was escorted on the flight by Taiwan immigration officers.

Liu was able to travel to Vancouver with the help of the Canadian government and religious groups in Canada, Bei said.

A sponsor in Canada has agreed to cover Liu's costs for the next year and has already secured a place for him to live in Ottawa, Bei said, adding that Liu will likely be granted permanent residency in Canada soon.

Liu, 64, had spent 290 days in Taiwan, after he arrived on Sept. 27 last year and filed for asylum.

After about four months in limbo at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Liu was allowed the leave the airport on Tseng's guarantee.

Liu, along with another Chinese asylum seeker Yan Kefen (顏克芬), had arrived in Taiwan on a flight from Thailand en route to Beijing, but they did not board the scheduled flight to China later in the day. Instead, they filed for asylum status, presenting refugee certificates issued by the United Nations and saying they were dissidents persecuted by the communist regime in China.

Taiwan, however, does not yet have an adequate mechanism to deal with refugee claims, according to Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the main government agency responsible for cross-Taiwan Strait affairs.

As a result, without documents that would allow them to enter the country through normal channels, the two men had to remain in a restricted area at the Taoyuan airport, according to Bei.

The men left Taiwan briefly on Jan. 30, traveling to an undisclosed location for "professional exchanges" but returned the next day, Bei said.

With the help of Bei and Tseng, the two asylum seekers were allowed to leave the airport when they returned to Taiwan the nexy day and to stay at a residence in Taipei, according to Bei.

Two months ago, Yan left Taiwan for Canada.

It took longer for Liu to be granted asylum in Canada because he has diabetes and hypertension and needed to have a series of medical tests before the Canadian government would allow him to enter, Tseng told CNA.

MAC spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), meanwhile, declined to comment on the case.

(By Chang Shu-ling and Joseph Yeh) Enditem/pc