A Chinese dissident known for posting pictures on social media commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown said Friday that he had fled to Taiwan and pleaded for help seeking asylum in the United States or Canada.
In a video that appeared to be self-shot and posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Cheng Siming said he was in the transit area at Taoyuan International Airport, near Taipei.
In order to hide from Chinas political persecution, I have now arrived in Taiwan, Cheng said in the video, which was posted about 7 a.m. He added that he hopes to get asylum in the U.S. or Canada.
In an interview with Taiwan broadcaster TBVS, Chen said that he took the opportunity to transit in Taiwan because it’s a democratic and free country and that it was safer than going through Thailand or Laos.
It is unclear how Cheng was able to travel to Taiwan, which is a self-governing island that is claimed by China.
In May, authorities in Chinas southern Hunan province detained Cheng after he tweeted a post commemorating the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy students at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which killed hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.
With controversy and clicks, Taiwan presidential hopeful aims to be a third-party exception
In the post, Cheng described being harassed by state security police over the years during the sensitive period around the anniversary dates.
Rights group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said he was believed to have been held in a detention center in Zhuzhou, in Hunan, shortly after.
I request for friends to appeal to Taiwanese government to please not send me back to China, Cheng said.