TAIPEI, TAIWAN — A Chinese activist pleaded for authorities not to deport him after he landed at Taiwan’s international airport Friday, and requested asylum from the United States and Canada.
Self-ruled Taiwan has restrictions on travelers from China, which claims the island as its territory.
Activist Chen Siming wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he had fled China three months ago because the methods used by authorities “to maintain stability are becoming more brutal”.
“To hide from China’s political persecution, I have arrived in Taiwan,” he said in a video he posted at 7:15 am (2315 GMT Thursday), adding that he was in the transit area of Taoyuan International Airport.
“I hope to seek asylum in the United States or Canada. I request for friends to appeal to Taiwan’s government to please not send me back to China.”
He also alleged that Chinese authorities had detained him in the past, confiscated his phone, and conducted a psychiatric evaluation on him.
“I could no longer endure (it)… so I fled China on July 22,” Chen wrote. “On September 22, I finally arrived in Taiwan, the island of freedom.”
AFP has not independently verified Chen’s account.
The activist, based in China’s southern province of Hunan, had vocally supported Hong Kong protesters in 2019 when the city saw massive demonstrations calling for more autonomy from Beijing.
According to Radio Free Asia, Chen first traveled to Laos after leaving China in July, before crossing into Thailand.
But due to worries about being sent to immigration prison in Thailand — a country with a track record of deporting dissidents — he bought a return ticket to China that transited via Taiwan, RFA said.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has not responded to requests for comment on Chen’s current status.
In 2019 two Chinese dissidents spent more than four months trapped in limbo at Taiwan’s airport after fleeing China.
Immigration officials refused to grant them entry because they did not have valid visas, but the democratic government of Taiwan was also wary of deporting them.
After 125 days, they were allowed a temporary stay outside the airport. They have since left for Canada where both were granted asylum status.
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