Taiwan still undecided on Chinese student Li Jiabao case

06/30/2019 06:11 PM
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Chinese student Li Jiabao in Taiwan (CNA file photo)
Chinese student Li Jiabao in Taiwan (CNA file photo)

Taipei, June 30 (CNA) Taiwan's government is still deliberating the most appropriate course of action in the case of Li Jiabao (李家寶), a Chinese student who is seeking political asylum after criticizing China's President Xi Jinping (習近平), with his student visa set to expire next week.

Officials have discussed Li's case with human rights groups and the school he is currently attending on multiple occasions, since he applied for long-term residency in Taiwan in April, Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), deputy chief of the Mainland Affairs Council, the top government agency in charge of cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, told CNA Sunday.

"We are still discussing what is the most appropriate grounds and status for Li (to stay in Taiwan)," said Chiu.

"We have to consider existing laws, two international human rights covenants, international perceptions, our existing processing mechanisms and other factors."

"The government will let the public know of its decision at an opportune time," he added.

Li has expressed concern that his public criticism of Xi's removal of China's presidential term limits in a livestream video in March could result in him being charged with "inciting subversion of state power" if he returns to China.

The 21-year-old, who is currently enrolled at China's Shandong Modern University, entered Taiwan on Feb. 21 this year as an exchange student at Tainan's Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science. His student visa is set to expire on July 2.

Although Chiu said he hopes the government's final decision will be one that ensures human rights protection with minimum negative impact, the official acknowledged that Li's case is a tricky one because he does not meet the criteria for political asylum stipulated in two laws governing cross-strait issues.

Article 17 of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area states that the government may grant a long-term residency permit to Chinese citizens on a case-by-case basis out of political considerations.

However, under Article 18 of the Regulations Governing the Residency, Long-term Residency or Residency for Naturalization of the People of the Mainland China Area Living with a Relative in the Taiwan Area, only prominent democracy movement leaders or those who have made special contributions to Taiwan's national security and other important areas are eligible for such a residency permit.

That said, Li is unlikely to be deported to China, Chiu said, as doing so will violate the spirit of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was adopted by Taiwan in 2009.

When contacted by CNA Sunday, Li declined to be interviewed, saying it was not a convenient time to talk.

(By Stacy Hsu)


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