Chinese student requests asylum after criticizing Xi

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Mar 15, 2019 - Page 1

A Chinese student in Taiwan has requested political asylum after criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Twitter and called on the government to pass a refugee law.

Li Jiabao (李家寶), who is studying at Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science in Tainan, on Tuesday said in a livestream on Twitter that Xi had declared himself emperor by amending the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.

He was referring to the Chinese National People’s Congress last year passing an amendment that removed the term limit for Chinese presidents in a landslide vote.

The livestream was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of Xi’s lifting of the two-term limit, Li said.

Xi’s actions made the political climate in China even darker that that on the eve of the Xinhai Revolution led by Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙)) that overthrew the Qing Dynasty, said Li, who claims to be 20 years old and from China’s Shandong Province.

Today’s China is like the absurd and bizarre world portrayed by British author George Orwell, he said, citing as examples Beijing’s oppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, its nationwide crackdown on lawyers and human rights activists on July 9, 2015, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

He also referred to scandals in China over toxic milk powder and tainted vaccines, as well as an alleged order by Beijing for “low-level” workers to be laid off to maintain a sufficient number of “new job openings” in the country.

Many Chinese know that the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda is little more than lies, Li said, adding that the party’s downfall is just a matter of time.

Li, whose student visa expires at the end of the current semester, yesterday said in an interview with the Central News Agency that as soon as he returns to China, he would be charged with “subversion of state power,” adding that he has “prepared for the worst.”

Li, who first visited Taiwan last year, said that his time in the nation has made him realize that the “two nations are systematically different.”

“Some might say that Taiwan has too much freedom, but it is still better than China’s ‘what-one-man-says-goes’ system,” he said.

Li said that he would apply for residency and called on the Legislative Yuan to swiftly pass a refugee law so that people “under similar circumstances” could seek political asylum.

Asked for comment, New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said that most Chinese students who have visited Taiwan say that Taiwan and China are very different.

This reflects Taiwan’s value in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

Lim, who in 2016 sponsored a refugee bill along with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), said that he hoped lawmakers across party lines could swiftly pass the bill into law.

DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), who was the first to propose refugee legislation, could not be reached for comment.

No progress has been made on the bill since it passed a preliminary review in July 2016.