Story at a glance
- A 33-year-old man fled China in a dinghy he bought online.
- He said he rode the 8.5-foot dinghy 112 miles through the Taiwan Strait.
- Taiwan doesn’t recognize asylum, leaving the man’s fate unclear.
A Chinese citizen desperately trying to flee the country rode a tiny rubber dinghy for 112 miles to Taiwan.
The 33-year-old man, Zhou Xian, was found in Taiwan’s Taichung Harbor on Friday night and told police officers he had traveled through the Taiwan Strait, a heavily guarded waterway, more than 11 hours in a 8.5-foot dinghy he had bought online.
“He said he was unhappy living in mainland China and wanted to seek freedom and democracy in Taiwan,” said a Taiwanese police officer.
Zhou also told officers that life in mainland China “is all kinds of bad.”
Some officials doubted whether or not Zhou truly made the entire trip through the waterway on the dingy.
“We suspect the man boarded a large fishing boat and used the dinghy to reach Taiwan after the fishing boat [entered Taiwanese waters],” said a source from the coastguard.
Regardless of how he made his way over, it has created concerns within the government on security of the strait, with Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng stating the government would “study the case further and work with the coastguard to nail down any problems.”
It’s unclear what Zhou’s fate will be, as Taiwan doesn’t recognize asylum. Oftentimes, illegal immigrants are returned to their home countries; however, Taiwan has allowed some dissidents to stay.
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