Balanced consideration’ to be given to Chinese asylum seekers: MAC

Taipei, Decisions by Taiwan on whether to grant asylum status to Chinese dissidents seeking protection in the country are made based on balanced consideration of its jurisdiction over such asylum applications and the need to protect their human rights, an official said Friday.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong was commenting on the cases of Yan Kefen and Liu Xinglian two Chinese nationals who have spent nearly four months in a restricted transit area at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Yan and Liu arrived at the airport Sept. 27 last year on a flight from Thailand for transit to Beijing and did not get on an onward flight scheduled later that day, instead filing for asylum status with the Taiwanese authorities, using refugee certificates issued by the United Nations.

"Seeking political asylum in this manner is illegal, but we understand their appeals from the standpoint of human rights," Chen said.

On Thursday, MAC spokesperson Chiu Chui-cheng said that the government is mulling a plan to allow Yan and Liu to enter the country under a cross-Taiwan Strait exchange program for professionals, but on Friday, he backtracked on his statement, saying that it was just "a possible option" that is still under deliberation.

One possibility is that Yan and Liu will be granted entry to Taiwan to await resettlement in a third country, said Chiu, adding that the council has been in talks with relevant agencies in Taiwan and in other countries regarding possible resettlement of the pair.

Earlier Friday (Taipei time), Chinese dissident Huang Yan who has been granted refugee status by the United Nations, arrived in Los Angeles after departing Taipei a day earlier, according to Taiwan Association for China Human Rights (TACHR) Secretary-General Chiu Ling-yao

Chinese dissidents who have fled to Thailand to escape prosecution at home have been closely watching how the cases of Yan and Liu evolve, and many of them are planning to emulate their success if they are allowed to enter Taiwan, according to an unnamed nongovernmental organization (NGO) worker.

As the human rights situation in China deteriorates, there are bound to be more Chinese dissidents attempting to seek political asylum in Taiwan, which necessitates legislation of a refugee act and other mechanisms to tackle similar cases concerning human rights and Taiwan's national security, the NGO worker said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel