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.
"I only seek temporary shelter."
A Chinese dissident, Chen Siming, has arrived in Taiwan after fleeing China in July. pic.twitter.com/HBvmXg6NsI
— TaiwanPlus News (@taiwanplusnews) September 23, 2023
photo taken June 4, 2018 & released by Chen Siming, Chen holds up Chinese characters for 6 and 4 referring to June 4 next to an obsolete tank. The Chinese dissident commemorating 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Sq. is pleading for asylum inthe US or Canada pic.twitter.com/lXBiLxVfoC
— Michael L Richard (@michaelR2668) September 22, 2023
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.