A self-declared Chinese defector who late on Friday came ashore in Taichung on an inflatable dinghy has been detained in quarantine awaiting further investigation, the coast guard said yesterday.
The 33-year-old surnamed Zhou (周) reportedly set off for Taiwan from Shishi in China’s Fujian Province on Friday morning on a boat equipped with a propeller and 90 liters of fuel.
He reached the Port of Taichung’s western wharf at about 9pm and climbed on top of an embankment where he stayed, unsure of what to do next.
At about 10:30pm, Lin Hsueh-hsien (林學賢) and his coworker heard calls coming from the embankment and discovered Zhou, who told them he had come from China on a rubber dinghy.
Since he had not eaten, Lin rushed to buy Zhou food and notified his boss, who in turn notified the Coast Guard Administration and Taichung Harbor Police.
Zhou told officers he was fleeing China for freedom and democracy in Taiwan, and denied having a criminal record or wanted status.
He said that he was out of work and was attracted by the economic opportunities in Taiwan.
Coast guard and harbor police officers yesterday said that Zhou is being held in quarantine at a coast guard detention facility while prosecutors investigate.
According to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法), entering Taiwan without permission or breaking an exit ban is punishable by up to three years in prison, detention and/or a fine of up to NT$90,000.
Fishers said that it would not have been difficult to pilot the inflatable dinghy across the Taiwan Strait, as sailing conditions were good over the past few days.
Wang Yao-chin (王耀進), who leads a fishing association in Taichung, said that a small vessel traveling at about 20 knots (37kph) could travel the approximately 100 nautical miles (185km) from Shishi to Taichung Harbor in four to five hours.
As the type of boat Zhou piloted travels at about 10 knots, it would be possible to cover the distance in about 10 hours, he added.
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