Taiwan gives Chinese asylum seeker temporary housing

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan's immigration department said Tuesday that it has provided temporary accommodation to a Chinese dissident who left his tour group intending to apply for political asylum in democratic Taiwan.

Zhang Xiangzhong abandoned his fellow travelers on April 13, one day after arriving in Taipei on a package tour. He said he hoped to stay on the self-governing island to promote democracy on the Chinese mainland, which is ruled by the authoritarian Communist Party.

The department said in a statement that it found Zhang on Monday night and provided him with temporary accommodation because he did not have any. It said it was investigating the reasons for him leaving his tour group.

Taiwan stopped offering political asylum to Chinese citizens to discourage illegal immigration and a string of plane hijackings in the 1990s by mainland citizens wanting to flee to Taiwan.

The Taiwanese government says it sometimes offers long-term residence permits on a case-by-case basis.