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Boy at center of high-profile custody battle

TAIPEI--Iruan Ergui Wu (吳憶樺), the boy at the center of a tug of war between Taiwan and Brazil during a messy custody battle a decade ago, will arrive in Taiwan early next month for a two-week visit.

Austin Ou, executive director of the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation, said that while Wu will use his Brazilian passport for his upcoming visit to Taiwan despite also having Republic of China (Taiwan) citizenship.

The R.O.C. government — the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Overseas Community Affairs Council in particular — has helped arrange Wu's upcoming trip, according to Ou, who has closely followed developments in Wu's life since the boy returned to Brazil in 2004.

“I believe the visit will be conducive to future Taiwan Brazilian relations,” said Ou in an interview with CNA.

The Commercial Office of Brazil in Taipei said Wednesday that because the 18-year-old Wu, also known by his Chinese name Wu Yi hua, is an adult, the Brazilian government will not interfere with his visit to Taiwan.

But it did say that Wu is welcome to visit the office during his stay and that it will be happy to offer any assistance necessary.

Ou, who has visited Wu twice every year since the boy returned to Brazil, said Wu will be accompanied on his visit by his foster parents, German nationals living in Brazil.

During his stay, Wu will reunite with his parental relatives whom he has not seen since 2004, when a Taiwanese court granted custody to his maternal grandmother in Brazil following the death of both of his parents.

Wu is looking forward to seeing his aunt and cousins and reuniting with his elementary school classmates from the few years he lived in Taiwan, according to Ou.

He will also visit several local schools as an “education ambassador” for the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation.

Ou said he has offered encouragement to Wu and incentives for good grades — including this upcoming trip to Taiwan.

Wu's father, Wu Teng-shu, was a fisherman from Jiading in southern Taiwan. He had his son in Brazil with a Brazilian woman but set sail again shortly after she gave birth in May 1995.

Iruan Ergui Wu's grandmother Rosa Leocadia DaSilva Ergui was awarded custody of the child three years later when his mother died of cancer.

In 2001, Wu Teng-shu brought the young boy to Taiwan to visit family, but when the father died two weeks later of a heart attack, uncle Wu Huo-yen decided to keep the boy in Kaohsiung.

DaSilva Ergui later came to Taiwan to bring the boy back to Brazil, marking the beginning of lengthy court proceedings that lasted more than two years before the Taiwan High Court ruled in her favor.

When Iruan Ergui Wu was taken from his uncle's home on Feb. 10, 2004, clashes erupted as the 8-year -old's relatives tried to stop police from entering their home.

Wu was later adopted by a German couple in Brazil because of his grandmother's poor health.

Then a pudgy but endearing child, Wu has now grown into a handsome, 173-centimeter-tall young man, Ou said.

Wu's upcoming trip to Taiwan has drawn wide attention in the Taiwanese expatriate community in Brazil, Ou said, with Taiwanese businessmen and expatriates in Sao Paulo to host a party for Wu on Jan. 1, 2014 to wish him a safe trip.

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