Nine Chinese exiles in Taiwan — five dissidents and four Falong Gung practitioners — have been granted long-term residency permits after living in the nation for between five and 10 years without official status. They can become Taiwanese citizens after two years.
According to the Epoch Times and Radio Free Asia, the nine Chinese exiles had originally asked for political asylum and have been granted long-term residence permits by the government. The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) confirmed the news yesterday.
The five Chinese dissidents are Cai Lujun (蔡陸軍), Chen Rongli (陳榮利), Wu Yalin (吳亞林), Yan Jun (顏軍) and Yan Peng (燕鵬).
MAC official Chang Feng-ling (張鳳玲) said the nine exiles were granted the permits as a one-off special gesture.
MAC spokesperson Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅) did not respond to a Taipei Times phone call, but in an interview broadcast by Radio Free Asia, she said that this was a “one-off special project.”
“Each of these nine [Chinese exiles] has stayed in Taiwan for five to 10 years. So the MAC invited the relevant agencies to discuss the matter last year and decided [to grant them permanent residency] based on humanitarian considerations,” Wu said, adding that this was a one-off case that is not going to be repeated.
The granting of political asylum to Chinese in general would need amendments to existing laws and to be institutionalized, she said.
“Following the Ministry of the Interior’s proposed draft bill on refugees, the MAC has motioned for amendments to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例). Both were handed to the legislature for further deliberation in 2012,” she said.
Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Tsai Chi-hsun (蔡季勳) said that not only had the nine Chinese exiles had to report to the police on a regular basis, they had also been deprived for years of various basic rights such as the right to work and to enroll in the National Health Insurance program.
Underscoring that Taiwan has ratified the two international covenants on human rights and has been reminded in a review report last year that it should offer protection to asylum seekers, the association in a public statement called for the immediate passage of the refugee act to ensure that any future asylum seekers’ human rights would be protected.
Winifred Tung (童文薰), a lawyer and Falun Gong practitioner in Taiwan, said a confidentiality agreement was signed between the government and the exiles.
“This is why you do not see the names of the four Falung Gong practitioners in the news,” she said.
“I’m pleased to have the residence permit now. One more month to go and I will have been in Taiwan for 10 years,” said Yan Peng (燕鵬), a well-known dissident from Shandong Province who fled from China in 2004 after being sentenced to prison for participating in the democracy movement. “I also hope that [refugees or asylum seekers] would be duly protected by an established refugee act in the future, since I can relate to them compassionately. I know the hardships and sufferings of not having [official status].