The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) is pushing the legislature to pass a refugee law in the hope that asylum seekers from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet will be able to stay legally in Taiwan, MAC Vice Chairman Liu Te-hsun (劉德勳) said yesterday.
If the law clears the legislative floor, it would provide a legal basis for the government to handle affairs related to refugees and give people a clear concept of refugee issues, Liu said.
Currently, most refugees seeking asylum in Taiwan are from Tibet or are descendants of the remnants of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) armies that were stranded in northern Thailand following the defeat of the KMT in the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
Two Chinese democracy activists, Cai Lujun (蔡陸軍) and Wu Yalin (吳亞林), have also sought sanctuary, Liu said.
Cai sneaked into Taiwan last year and was held for six months at the Hsinchu detention center for illegal Chinese immigrants, while Wu sought political asylum after he arrived last year as a tourist, Liu said. Both have now obtained temporary resident status, he added.
The two men came under the media spotlight last September when they scaled the wall of the American Institute in Taiwan compound in Taipei to request political asylum in the US.
As Taiwan does not have a political refugee or asylum law, the government has not been able to grant political asylum to the two Chinese political activists, but they have been allowed to remain in the country temporarily on a humanitarian basis, Liu said.
The MAC is providing a monthly stipend of between NT$10,000 and NT$20,000 to help with their living expenses because they are not allowed to work, Liu said, adding that this would continue to be a financial burden on the agency as an additional expenditure.
The MAC hopes that the law will soon be passed to allow political asylum seekers to gain resident status and allow them to seek work once they are certified as refugees, he said.