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Published On: Sun, Apr 16th, 2017

Chinese Dissident Zhang Xiangzhong Disappeared in Taiwan

nsnbc : Zhang Xiangzhong, a 48-year-old dissident from the people’s Republic of China, disappeared one day after he arrived in Taiwan with a tour group. It is believed that he “disappeared himself” to seek refuge in Taiwan. He was previously convicted of causing social disorder and credit card fraud; A conviction, he claimed, was based on trumped-up charges.

Zhang Xiangzhong_China_Taiwan_Apr 2017

Zhang Xiangzhong. Photo courtesy New Citizens Movement

Zhang Xiangzhong “disappeared” one day after his arrival with a tour group from the people’s Republic of China. These tour groups are usually well-monitored, and some are surprised at the fact that he was allowed to travel to Taiwan at all, and that he could disappear.

The question many ask is how Zhang Xiangzhong, a convicted criminal and in the eyes of Beijing a dissident, could register an eight-day tour including seven nights in Taiwan from April 12 through April 19. On April 13 staff of the tourism bureau were unable to find or to contact him.

In a radio interview broadcast by Radio Free Asia Zhang claimed he had applied for political asylum with the government of Taiwan in reaction to the detention in the people’s Republic of China, of Taiwanese rights activist Lee Ming-che, the former Democratic Progressive Party worker disappeared in China on March 19, with the authorities there only admitting later they had detained him, supposedly on suspicion of activities detrimental to national security;  And apparently “unormal behavior” or rather “behavior that deviates from Beijing’s imposed concepts or normality and normativity with regard to criticizing human rights issues in “the people’s republic”.

Zhang reportedly told the media that he planned to visit the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) next Tuesday to hand in his formal application, but before that he would also meet with a human rights organization. The MAC said Saturday evening that no request for political asylum had been received, and that the relevant authorities were still looking for Zhang’s whereabouts. If he showed up, the National Immigration Agency would deal with his case, the MAC said.

Zhang was reportedly arrested in July 2013 and spent three years in prison in the People’s Republic of China due to his participation in the civil rights movement. After he arrived in Taiwan, he learned about the attempt by Lee’s wife to travel to Beijing to help her husband, and her actions moved him so much he decided to leave his tour and request asylum, Zhang told RFA.

The website of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders states that  Zhang was sentenced on a trumped-up charge of credit card fraud. He was a member of the New Citizens’ Movement, a group working for more democracy, government transparency and rule of law in China. Certainly, Beijing would not consider such activities in “the people’s republic” as normal or normative.

CH/L – nsnbc 16.04.2017

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