Taiwan repatriating illegal Chinese immigrants in four groups: NIA

01/06/2022 07:53 PM
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The NIA building. CNA file photo
The NIA building. CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) A total of 21 illegal Chinese immigrants are being repatriated to China in four separate groups, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) confirmed on Thursday.

A few of them were flown home on Wednesday and Thursday, and the entire process of repatriating a total of 21 people --18 men and three women -- is expected to be completed before the Lunar New Year holiday, the NIA said.

Under the Kinmen Accord, the agency said the repatriation list given to Chinese authorities in May last year initially included 23 people, but two of them had since gone missing and the search was still ongoing.

The Kinmen Accord was signed in 1990 under which both sides agreed to repatriate illegal immigrants and criminals to the other side out of humanitarian considerations.

Among the repatriated was Hu Haibo (胡海波), a self-proclaimed pro-democracy activist who the NIA said was returned to China on Thursday.

According to the United Daily News (UDN), Hu reportedly swam from Xiamen, in China's Fujian Province, to Taiwan's outlying Kinmen County on Sept. 25, 2020, and when discovered, told local authorities that he was a dissident who had been oppressed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and was seeking political asylum in a third country.

The UDN cited Hu as having been forced into a drug rehabilitation center for supporting Hong Kong's Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement, which is also known as the 2019 Hong Kong protests.

He had since been transferred to the Kaohsiung detention center, the UDN said, citing in another of its reports that a source familiar with the matter had revealed that Hu was not a true dissident and therefore had to be repatriated.

In the Chinese-language report, it also mentioned that among those who were repatriated on Wednesday was a man named Zhou (周), who had illegally entered Taichung Harbor on a rubber dinghy in early May last year from China.

According to the NIA at the time, Zhou claimed to have sailed from China's east coast in pursuit of "freedom and democracy." He was subsequently held at the Nantou detention center.

Meanwhile, the first two groups were sent home from Wednesday and Thursday, with the remaining two groups to be repatriated on Jan. 8 and Jan. 12, UDN said.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government agency in charge of cross-strait affairs, said Thursday the repatriation of people between both sides of the Taiwan Strait was a normal process that had been going on for years.

(By Liu Chien-pang, Miao Zong-han and Ko Lin)

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