World News

Taiwan says Chinese asylum seeker returns to mainland

Posted April 19

— A Chinese dissident who intended to apply for political asylum in Taiwan voluntarily returned to the mainland with his tour group Wednesday, ending a short-lived saga that had threatened to turn into a diplomatic episode.

Political activist Zhang Xiangzhong met with immigration officials Tuesday and decided his "best solution" was to return to China, Taiwanese authorities said in a statement. He departed from Taipei's airport Wednesday morning with his original tour group, it said.

Zhang abandoned his 9-day package tour last week and said he intended to seek asylum on the self-governing island as a political refugee. He had previously been jailed by China in connection with his political activities.

Taiwan stopped offering asylum to mainlanders after a string of plane hijackings in the 1990s by people seeking to flee China for Taiwan, although it has offered long-term residency.

Zhang's case had "difficulty" conforming to Taiwan's requirements for long-term residency, the Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement, adding that Zhang "fully understood" the situation.

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