Sun, Nov 08, 2015 - Page 12 News List

‘Defection to freedom’

People’s Liberation Army pilot Li Xianbin became a hero when he fled to Taiwan in 1965, but met a tragic end decades later while visiting his homeland

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

The visit went well, but as Li Xianbin was about to return to Canada, he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison as a “defector and traitor.” Alas, a provision allows any crime punishable by death or life in prison to be prosecuted past the 20-year statute of limitations with the permission of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, China’s top prosecuting body.

Li Xianbin was paroled in 2002 because of poor health, and died of cancer in Shanghai about six months later, in the very land that he had risked everything to escape from.

Taiwan in Time, a column about Taiwan’s history that is published every Sunday, spotlights important or interesting events around the nation that have anniversaries this week.

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