Wed, Jan 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

China urged to take back immigrants

CROSS-STRAIT TIES There are 1,650 Chinese immigrants in Taiwan's detention centers, but Beijing has yet to take action on repatriation

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday appealed to China to speedily repatriate its illegal immigrants before the Lunar New Year.

"Aside from China, there isn't a country that will not welcome its citizens back into its territory. We hope that China can arrange to repatriate these 1,650 illegal immigrants so they can reunite with their families right away," minister Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) said at the MOI's annual press conference yesterday.

Although China restarted its repatriation mechanism at the end of last October, there are still 1,650 Chinese immigrants in Taiwan's detention centers.

The return of cross-strait illegal immigrants and criminals is based on the Kinmen Accord (金門協議), which was signed by both sides' Red Cross societies in 1990. The accord states that once illegal immigrants have been arrested, a verification procedure should be completed within 20 days, and arrangements for repatriation should follow.

China, however, has frequently delayed such arrangements, resulting in a distorted situation of detainees waiting endlessly in four detention centers in Taiwan over the past 10 years.

According to the Bureau of Immigration, 43,210 illegal Chinese immigrants have been arrested under the accords, 41,101 of whom have been repatriated to China.

Each Chinese immigrant has to wait for an average of 173 days for repatriation. The government said that holding the detainees has been a heavy financial burden.

Yu said that Taiwan has suggested providing ships and transporting the immigrants to China, but China continues to turn down the proposal.

Based on the Bureau of Immigration's figures, the Ministry of the Interior had to allocate more than NT$100 million every year for the immigrants. Illness and pregnancy require extra funds.

In yesterday's press conference, Yu also vowed to work with Southeast Asian countries and China to arrest 47 Taiwanese fugitives hiding in these countries.

Yu specifically named former independent lawmaker Wu Tzer-yuan (伍澤元), who is believed to have been in China since early last year.

Wu left Taiwan on Dec. 29, 2001. The Ministry of Justice's Bureau of Investigation later said that Wu had been spotted by its special agents in Guangzhou, China.

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