Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chinese activist swims to asylum

DPA , TAIPEI

A Chinese pro-democracy activist has sought political asylum in Taiwan after jumping off a tourist boat in the Taiwan Strait, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported late Monday night.

Yan Jun (顏軍), 33, jumped into the sea about 11am on Monday while touring around Kinmen on a Chinese boat, CNA said.

"A Taiwanese patrol boat picked up Yan, took him ashore and has detained him while investigating his background and verifying his claims that he has been persecuted in China," CNA said.

Yan, who is from Xian, claimed he was sentenced to two years in jail in 2003 for demanding that China rehabilitate the students arrested in the 1989 pro-democracy protest in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. He was released in April last year.

"To escape from China's persecution, Yan decided to seek asylum from Taiwan by joining a boating tour in the Taiwan Strait which departed from the city of Xiamen on China's southeast coast," the report said.

Yen carried with him a written statement explaining why he wanted to defect to Taiwan, it said.

Taiwan used to welcome Chinese defectors during the Cold War, but has been less receptive since 1987 when cross-strait tensions began to thaw.

But since China's 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protest, Taiwan has sheltered dozens of Chinese democracy activists, allowing some to live in Taiwan and arranging for the others to seek asylum in the West.

Some of the Chinese defectors have sought asylum in Taiwan by swimming from Xiamen to Kinmen, 6km from China's Fujian coast.

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