Chinese asylum seekers still stuck in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

Liu Xinglian and Yan Kefen have been awaiting a decision on their refugee status from Taiwanese authorities for 70 days

Asylum seekers Yan Kefen (left) and Liu Xinglian (right)

Asylum seekers Yan Kefen (left) and Liu Xinglian (right) (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two Chinese citizens who applied for political asylum after landing at Taoyuan International Airport on a flight transfer have now been stuck at the airport for 70 days.

Liberty Times reports that Liu Xinglian (劉興聯) and Yan Kefen (顏克芬) landed in Taiwan on Sep. 27 on a flight transfer from Bangkok to Beijing, after which they made immediate asylum applications. Since the immigration agency is yet to come to a decision on their fate, they have been made to wait in the restricted zone of the airport.

Taiwan currently has no specific laws regarding refugees and asylum seekers, which both dissidents said they understand during a recent interview. They also acknowledged that their pre-election arrival came at a sensitive time.

Liu and Yan said a third country has accepted their asylum applications, which are currently going through checks and approvals, although they have mentally prepared for a long wait as it is unknown when the country will issue formal approvals.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) remarked that it is still the responsibility of the airline company to make suitable arrangements for the two dissidents. The National Immigration Agency has offered to provide necessary assistance for daily needs.

With regards to the dissidents’ status in Taiwan, MAC said the government will guarantee their safety for the time being, and thoroughly consider international customs, domestic law, prior cases and human rights protection practices. They added that the dissidents will receive communications about any developments on their case.

Both Liu and Yan have previously been detained by Chinese authorities for “inciting the subversion of state power” and “stirring up trouble.” Liu said he was held in solitary confinement and tortured for months, being force-fed medication that gave him tumors, which he discovered upon release.

Common procedure under these circumstances is for passengers to be returned to their country of departure, although the dissidents are understandably anxious about this, given that Bangkok caved to Chinese pressure and returned two UN-registered asylum seekers back in 2015.

The two told authorities they do not wish to return to Beijing. They have already qualified for UN refugee status.