Chinese rafter seeks Taiwan democracy, finds custody

TAIPEI Thu Dec 8, 2011 5:59am EST

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TAIPEI (Reuters) - A Chinese man claiming he wanted to see Taiwan's democracy in action paddled for seven hours on a raft made of styrofoam and bamboo from a beach in China to one of Taiwan's outlying islands, only to find himself arrested for illegal entry.

Guo Zhiyong, 35, from China's westernmost Xinjiang Province, was found on Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Island, about 2 km (a mile) off the Chinese coast, early on Wednesday morning, Taiwan's coastguard said on Thursday.

He was carrying a backpack containing a life jacket and a child's inflatable swimming ring. He also had a document typed partly in Chinese characters and partly Roman letters that made references to Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese action film star Jet Li, said Pu Yu-lin, deputy captain of the Kinmen Coast Guard Inspection Unit.

Flanked by police and with his face covered, Guo said he had come to Taiwan to see democracy and called himself a "political researcher".

"I want to ask you a question -- are Taiwan and China both parts of the Republic of China?", he told media on the island, referring to Taiwan's official title. "If they are one country, then why am I illegal? Where are the human rights in Taiwan?"

China, officially the People's Republic of China, and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war, and remain politically separate. China has not ruled out force to retake Taiwan.

When asked what he thought of the democracy he found, Guo held up his handcuffed hands and said: "It's terrible."

(Writing by Jonathan Standing; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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