A Chinese man managed to cross the highly-militarised Taiwan Strait in a rubber dinghy to seek “freedom and democracy,” according to Taiwan’s police.
The man, only identified by his surname Zhou, was detained on Saturday in Taiwan’s Taichung city after locals said he was behaving suspiciously, according to the police, AFP reported.
He said that he traveled from Fujian province, on China's east coast, in a rubber dinghy and wanted to move to Taiwan to seek "freedom and democracy,” police said.
Coast Guard officials said Zhou bought the raft, which measured 8.8 feet by 5 feet, on a Chinese e-commerce site, according to The Washington Post. It was fitted with an outboard motor and carried 90 litres of fuel.
Zhou is currently being held at a detention centre in Taichung and undergoing a 14-day quarantine. He could face up to three years in prison, a fine as well as repatriation.
The Taiwan Strait is one of the most militarised waterways with hundreds of Chinese and Taiwanese ships patrolling it.
Taiwan is self-governing but claimed by Beijing as a breakaway province. The incident comes amid mounting tensions between the two, as China has stepped up military activities near the island in the past year. It has refused to rule out a military invasion to bring the island under its control.
China has also expressed strong opposition to growing ties between the US and Taiwan in recent months. Beijing last week opposed the US embassy in France’s lunch invitation to Taiwan’s representative, saying the move endorsed “secessionist forces” in Taiwan.
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