You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Taiwan says Chinese asylum seeker returns to mainland

Associated Press logo Associated Press 19/04/2017
Chinese dissident Zhang Xiangzhong is seen on a computer screen during an interview via videoconference Monday, April 17, 2017, in Taipei, Taiwan. Zhang, who abandoned his tour group while in Taiwan, said he will apply for political asylum on Tuesday in hopes of staying on the self-governing island to promote democracy on the mainland. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai) © The Associated Press Chinese dissident Zhang Xiangzhong is seen on a computer screen during an interview via videoconference Monday, April 17, 2017, in Taipei, Taiwan. Zhang, who abandoned his tour group while in Taiwan, said he will apply for political asylum on Tuesday in hopes of staying on the self-governing island to promote democracy on the mainland. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A Chinese dissident who intended to apply for political asylum in Taiwan voluntarily returned to the mainland with his tour group Wednesday, ending a short-lived saga that had threatened to turn into a diplomatic episode.

Political activist Zhang Xiangzhong met with immigration officials Tuesday and decided his "best solution" was to return to China, Taiwanese authorities said in a statement. He departed from Taipei's airport Wednesday morning with his original tour group, it said.

Zhang abandoned his 9-day package tour last week and said he intended to seek asylum on the self-governing island as a political refugee. He had previously been jailed by China in connection with his political activities.

Taiwan stopped offering asylum to mainlanders after a string of plane hijackings in the 1990s by people seeking to flee China for Taiwan, although it has offered long-term residency.

Zhang's case had "difficulty" conforming to Taiwan's requirements for long-term residency, the Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement, adding that Zhang "fully understood" the situation.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon