Chinese Human Rights Activist Escaped, In Limbo At Taipei’s International Airport

Chen Siming, regularly jailed in China for commemorating his country’s 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square, managed to leave his country in July and turned up this weekend in the transit area of Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport seeking refuge from persecution.

Taiwan doesn’t have a refugee policy, and in the face of increased saber-rattling from China doesn’t want to anger the mainland. However Siming is seeking to continue on to either the U.S. or Canada for asylum. He says that his country’s tactics towards him had become “more and more cruel and crazy.” Each year around June 6th he would be detained for a week or two at a time, to prevent him from calling attention to the massacre on its anniversary.

They detained me at will without following legal procedures, taking my cellphone and even giving me a psychiatric evaluation. I can no longer continue to accept the ravaging of my personal dignity, the trampling of my honor and the threat to my body.

If he’s returned to China he’ll be detained, receive a show trial with pre-determined outcome, and be tortured. He’s taken a risk violating Taiwanese law to escape China but says, “I entered Taiwan illegally, but Taiwan is a democratic and free society, a country. Even if I am sitting in jail here, I would feel safe.”

It’s been 34 years since ‘Tank Man’ stood athwart the People’s Liberation Army of China, in what seemed like an historical moment for that nation. The Chinese people who stood up that day were disappeared.

If Taiwan allows Chen Siming to leave, that could cause increased friction with Beijing. Any country that accepts him risks a diplomatic row as well. Tensions between the U.S. and China have risen markedly over the past few years.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Perfect example of a refugee. We have plenty of room. The US should let him in. I think these situations are obvious. Do we really care what the PRC thinks?

  2. If we want to encourage folks to fight for freedom like Siming clearly has, then we need to show we’ll have their back when they need it. US should immediately grant him asylum and a medal. Make it a big deal.

  3. This is a perfect example of what ASYLUM really is for. A legitimate example of persecution for ones political belief’s, hopefully this man is granted safe transit to US, Canada, Europe or Australia

  4. @Joseph “This is the perfect example of a refugee.”

    This is only true according to the warped definitions of “refugee” promulgated by bureaucrats in Brussels and Washington DC. In fact the “perfect example of a refugee” is a person who fears persecution for protected beliefs and who seeks asylum in the first safe country he can do so.

    He could have sought asylum in Thailand. Instead he got on a plane to Taiwan so he could seek asylum in a manner not permitted by International Law, but in a manner intended to maximize publicity while creating unnecessary international conflict. So he could have been a refugee in Thailand, but in Taiwan he’s just a noisy guy without permission to enter or remain.

  5. Taiwan doesn’t have asylum policy? I guess they are not Republic of China anymore. Taiwan accepted several PLAAF pilots who flew their MiGs into Taiwan to seek freedom. They even negotiated to get a PLAAF Colonel from South Korea who flew his MiG-21 into South Korea released who is now (or at least was) deputy minister of civil aviation administration of Taiwan. I guess if you flew a MiG in, you are special.

  6. Asylum in Canada?!? They’re basically China’s lap dog. He’ll “mysteriously disappear” in a matter of weeks if he goes to Canada

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