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Chinese man crosses Taiwan Strait in Taobao-bought boat for 'freedom'

Chinese man makes it to central Taiwan in rubber boat for 'freedom and democracy'

Zhou being questioned by police. (Photo from reader)

Zhou being questioned by police. (Photo from reader)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Chinese man who claimed that he was yearning for "freedom and democracy" successfully crossed the Taiwan Strait and reached central Taiwan over the weekend by way of a rubber boat he purchased online in China.

At 11:50 p.m. on Friday evening (April 30), police received a report of a strange man who had was seen wandering around on Nandi Road at Taichung Harbor. When officers arrived at the scene, the 33-year-old man, identified with the surname Zhou (周), said he had come to Taiwan from Fujian Province in China in a rubber dinghy seeking "freedom and democracy," reported UDN.

Zhou was found to be barefoot and only wearing a light jacket and a pair of shorts. He was not carrying any form of identification and only had 100 Chinese yuan (US$15) in his pocket.

Chinese man crosses Taiwan Strait in Taobao-bought boat for 'freedom'
Boat that Zhou took from Fujian to Taichung. (Photo from reader)

He told police he is a native of Sichuan Province but was unemployed and wanted to come to Taiwan to seek a better living. Zhou claimed he purchased the rubber boat, which included an outboard motor, on Taobao for 16,000 Chinese yuan.

According to Zhou, he then drove to Fujian's Shishi City, where he loaded the boat with three 35-liter drums and one 20-liter drum full of gasoline. He told police that he then set out for Taiwan at 10:30 a.m. and arrived at Taichung Harbor at 9:30 p.m. that evening and that he had not encountered any difficulties along the way.

When he reached the shore, he climbed an embankment, and it was not until he asked nearby workers where he was that he realized that he had made it to Taiwan. Zhou told police he did not have a criminal record in China and had made the journey because he was "yearning for freedom and democracy in Taiwan."

Chinese man crosses Taiwan Strait in Taobao-bought boat for 'freedom'
Zhou as he was being processed by police. (CNA photo)

Police said that they first took Zhou's temperature to confirm that he did not have a fever, before sending him to a detention center to undergo 14 days of quarantine. After his quarantine is completed, he will be transferred to the Prosecutor's Office to be investigated for violating Article 74 of the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法).

If he is found guilty of breaching the act, he could face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to NT$90,000 (US$3,200).