A Chinese dissident who was stuck inside a transit area in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport after he refused to fly on to China yesterday said he has arrived in Canada after being granted asylum.
Chen Siming (陳思明) arrived in Taiwan on Sept. 22 after traveling through Thailand and Laos. When he landed at Taoyuan airport he refused to reboard, asking for assistance to resettle in a third country.
He spent almost two weeks living in the transit area and immigration office of the airport, where he said he was looked after by authorities.
Photo courtesy of a reader
There was concern about how long he would be there, after a similar case in late 2018 saw two dissidents spend four months at Taoyuan airport.
Chen said that he had arrived in Vancouver on Saturday.
“I was able to successfully obtain political asylum in Canada,” he said, crediting the international attention his case received and various rights groups, as well as the governments of Taiwan and Canada, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“The three parties handled my case quickly in the spirit of humanitarian care,” he said. “This kindness will be remembered forever. I would like to express my sincere gratitude.”
Chen is a known activist in China who regularly commemorated the Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4, 1989, and has been repeatedly detained around the anniversary.
He fled China for Laos in late July, but after human rights lawyer Lu Siwei (盧思位) was arrested in the country and deported, Chen was advised to leave.
He arrived in Thailand, where he said he was granted interim asylum status by the UNHCR, before booking a flight to Guangzhou, China, which transited in Taiwan.
Dissident and political commentator Guo Baoshen (郭寶勝), who had been assisting Chen, said Chen was “very lucky” to have been transferred so quickly.
In late 2018, Yan Bojun (顏伯鈞) and Liu Xinglian (劉興聯) spent about 100 days in Taoyuan airport before Taiwan authorities said they could enter, but only after they flew to Singapore and then returned on short-term humanitarian visas.
Taiwan does not have a formal refugee pathway, and tensions between Taipei and Beijing — which has vowed to annex Taiwan — make the topic of Chinese asylum seekers a politically sensitive and complicated issue.
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