Chinese asylum seeker Li Jiabao granted 6-month 'special student visa'

2019/07/02 18:21:55 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Taipei, July 2 (CNA) Taiwan's government has granted a "special student visa" to Li Jiabao (李家寶), a Chinese student who is seeking political asylum, allowing him to stay in the country for another six months to "advance his knowledge."

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government agency in charge of cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, announced the decision in a press release Tuesday, when Li's current student visa was due to expire.

"Li has expressed several times his hope of remaining in Taiwan for further studies," MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said in the press release. "The government has considered his wishes and decided to grant him the necessary assistance before his current study period ends."

Chiu said several meetings were held to discuss Li's case in an effort to find a suitable solution, and it was decided eventually to issue him a "special student visa" that would allow him to stay in Taiwan for six more months to continue his studies.

Li, who is currently an exchange student at Tainan's Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science (CNU), is seeking political asylum and applied in April for long-term residency in Taiwan.

He said at the time that he feared the comments he made in a livestream video in March, criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for removing presidential term limits in China, could result in him being charged with "inciting subversion of state power" if he returned to China.

In Tuesday's press statement, Chiu said the government of China should respect the "free will" of young Chinese students. China should view Li's comments and actions in Taiwan in a "civilized and rational" way, rather than resorting to suppression or any other adverse tactics against him or his family there, Chiu said.

"Taiwan is a free and democratic society, where diverse opinions and views are respected and tolerated," Chiu said. "The two sides of the Taiwan Strait may have their differences, but the maintenance of cross-strait peace and stability requires mutual understanding and joint efforts."

Meanwhile, when asked about his future plans in Taiwan, Li said only that he wanted to complete his studies.

He also declined to say what he planned to do about his current enrollment at China's Shandong Modern University and whether he would remain at CNU or move to another school.

(By Stacy Hsu)

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