How did an ordinary Chinese citizen, in search of an escape route from his country, cross one of the most militarized stretches of sea in the world on board a two-meter dinghy, that is the 160 kilometers of the Taiwan sea? The adventure of Mr. Zhou, 33 – surname and age are the only details disclosed by the border authorities – does not end well: he is now detained in the Taiwanese port of Taichung, where the police interrogated him. In the interrogation videos released by the authorities, to the agent who asks him “You came here for freedom”, Zhou replies “yes”: in Taiwan, a de facto republic whose sovereignty is contested by the People’s Republic of China which claims it as its own province, there are more freedoms than in China, and life at home is for Zhou, hitherto uncensored, “terrible in every possible way”.
Taiwan welcomes a good number of refugees every year, even without having a real reception system: the situations are evaluated one by one, and so will it be for Zhou, who risks a fine of around 2,000 euros. Last August 12 Hong Kong citizens left by rubber dinghy, fleeing the repression of the pro-Chinese government, but 100 kilometers from the coast they had been stopped. The real mystery therefore is how the defector Zhou managed to get there, in Taiwan. From Quanzhou, where he boarded a motorized rubber dinghy bought on the internet, there are 160 kilometers of sea dotted with Chinese and Taiwanese police boats, the army, surveillance radars. Taiwanese defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng immediately apologized for the “possible flaws” in the naval surveillance system and in the coast guard radars, although it is not yet clear what could have happened. According to some senior officials of the Taipei navy, it is not impossible that Zhou’s rubber dinghy went unnoticed by “hiding” in the wake of large trading ships. The doubt about the fuel remains: Zhou says he has embarked 90 liters, but it is an insufficient quantity for the 10 hours of navigation he has faced. In fact, however, the defector has now arrived in Taiwan, and hopes that the reward of his “exceptional achievement” is to be able to stay there.
May 4, 2021 (change May 4, 2021 | 12:56)
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