Thu, Jul 19, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Chinese beggars entered Taiwan using business visas


Police said on Monday that two beggars operating near MRT stations in Taipei City and Taipei County turned out to be professional beggars from China who had entered Taiwan on business visas.

Because the men's passports contained a large number of stamps for Southeast Asian countries, police said they were investigating whether the pair were scouts for a larger Chinese begging racket.

Liang Yiping (梁一平), 32, faked deafness and muteness when confronted by police at Yongan Market station, but his identity was later confirmed after officers found he had Chinese currency and more than NT$10,000.

After running a background check, they established that he had entered the country with Guo Anquan (郭安銓), 53, on July 12. Guo was later picked up at Ximending station.

Liang had applied for a visa as vice president of a company in Guangdong Province, but he said that both men were relying on begging for their income.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday the men were invited into the country by a Taiwanese wholesale clothing firm established in November 2001.

The company in April invited two other Chinese to visit Taiwan.

That pair arrived on April 23 and left on April 29, the ministry said in a statement on its Web site.

The ministry said it would refer the company and a travel agency that had arranged the visits to investigators over possible forgery, and that it would no longer accept applications from either the company or the travel agency.

Liang and Guo had been staying at a hotel near Ximending. Police said the men claimed they were collecting money to return home.

They claimed that the NT$30,000 that police discovered in their bags and clothes had been collected over three days of begging.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said that travel applications for business are handled by the MOEA, and that the incident showed that the ministry needed to improve its system of checks.

The ministry yesterday said it would improve its review process.

Police said that Guo and Liang had been moved to a National Immigration Agency detention center in Ilan to await deportation.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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