A 73-year-old Chinese man who tried to enter Taiwan without proper documentation to find his long-lost elder brother thanked Taiwan’s immigration officers on Friday for helping him with his search.
“I’m just hoping to see my big brother after more than 60 years apart. I would have no regrets if I could meet him before I die,” said Zhang Meisheng (張梅生) at a news conference that was organized by officers of the National Immigration Agency’s detention center in Nantou County.
Zhang was waiting to be sent back to China after serving a three-month jail term for attempting to illegally enter Taiwan.
NIA officers, who said they were deeply touched by Zhang’s story, called the news conference to help him locate his sibling before he was repatriated.
Showing photos and letters that his brother had mailed him, Zhang said his brother, a Whampoa Military Academy graduate and now about 88 years old, came to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government while the Chinese civil war was still raging.
Zhang said they exchanged letters in 1989 and 2000, but when he wrote to his brother in April or May, he did not get a reply.
According to Zhang, his father, who had been the police chief in China’s Hubei Province under the KMT regime before it moved to Taiwan, was executed by the communists in 1963.
Zhang’s mother later hanged herself, but she first asked him to find his elder brother to comfort the spirits of the family’s ancestors.
Strongly motivated by his mother’s request, Zhang said he chose to come to Taiwan covertly after repeatedly being denied permission to leave his hometown in Hubei Province.
Zhang and his cousin first made their way to Xiamen in Fujian Province and tried to find somebody who would sail them to Taiwan.
However, because of his age, there were no takers, so he and his cousin attempted to row their way to Taiwan-held Kinmen Island, just kilometers off China’s coast, in a tattered polystyrene rowboat they found.
The two men were arrested by Taiwan’s coastal patrollers off Kinmen as they approached the island on Sept. 22.
Zhang’s cousin was given a four-month jail term.
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