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Illegal immigrant crosses from China to Kinmen on 'raft'

TAIPEI--A man who tried to cross illegally from the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen to Taiwan's outlying Kinmen Island on a makeshift raft on Monday has been arrested, Taiwan Coast Guard officers reported yesterday.

The 29-year-old man, surnamed Xiao, was spotted by the Coast Guard at 7:30 a.m. Monday, paddling on a polyfoam board in waters off Dadan Island, 12,000 meters southeast of Kinmen, according to the Kinmen Coast Guard Administration.

Xiao was carrying only a bottle of water, an identity card, a cellphone and 400 yuan (US$62.6), a coastguard officer said.

The Chinese immigrant told police he is a translator from Hunan province and his attempt to cross over from China was inspired by a report on Indiatimes.com, which covered the exiled Tibetan government's recruitment of overseas volunteers.

In hopes of becoming a volunteer Mandarin teacher, Xiao said, he bought the styrofoam board for 500 yuan and made two wooden paddles, creating a makeshift craft on which to cross the seven kilometer stretch of water between Xiamen on China's southeast coast and Kinmen Island.

Xiao said he had planned to set off from Guangxi Province in southern China but that attempt failed, so he opted to leave from Xiamen instead.

He told police he had paddled for more than two hours to reach the coast of Dadan Island.

Xiao is currently being held in detention at the Kinmen District Prosecutors Office for violating the country's Immigration Act. He will be repatriated to China once the relevant legal procedures are completed, prosecutors said.

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Soldiers escort a mainlander surnamed Hsiao (肖), center, on Dadan Island (大膽島) to the Coast Guard stationed in Kinmen County (金門縣) for questioning. Hsiao was discovered by soldiers on the island after he had traveled some 4,400 meters from Xiamen (廈門) on a styrofoam board with wooden paddles.

(CNA)



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