Chinese writer and blogger Lu Haitao (盧海濤) asked the US for political asylum while in Taiwan and was granted his request, local media reported yesterday.
However, a US official refused to confirm whether he has been given asylum.
“I can confirm that he and his wife are in the United States. As you know, we don’t confirm or deny asylum issues,” US Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday.
Voice of America cited Chinese dissident Hu Jia (胡佳), a friend of Lu, as saying Lu and his wife visited Taiwan on Nov. 17 last year, and were scheduled to return to China on Dec. 1 last year.
However, “because something came up and they were under pressure,” they changed their plans hours before returning to China and sought refuge in the US, Hu said.
They eventually obtained US assistance to go to the US from Taiwan and they now reside in Washington, Hu said.
Hu said Lu and his wife arrived in the US from Taiwan on Dec. 3. Because the matter involves diplomatic confidentiality between the US and Taiwan, and Lu made a commitment to the US, he will not accept interviews for the time being, Hu said.
He said that during Lu’s bid for political asylum, the US Department of State offered a great deal of help, including assistance from the US embassy in Beijing and “American agencies in Taiwan.”
Hu also said that during Lu’s stay in Taiwan, Lu met with former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-te (施明德), who has since severed ties with the party, and others, but due to certain pressures, he decided suddenly to ask for political asylum.
Asked if Taiwan did not extend a helping hand, Hu only said “it went beyond not helping.”
The 37-year-old had been under strict surveillance in China for visiting other dissidents, including Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠), Liu Xia (劉霞), the wife of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), and Hu, and for taking part in dissident activities.
Hu said Lu was very grateful to the US State Department for efficiently helping Chinese citizens in dire straits to take refuge in a free country.