Chinese authorities have found on their territory a Taiwanese soldier who went missing last week while serving on an islet in Taiwan.
The 26-year-old soldier surnamed Chenis part of Erdan’s squad kitchen staff. He reported himself missing when he did not appear at the roll call last Thursday. Kinmen Defense Command launched a search party immediately.
Erdan is one of the islets that make up the Kinmen Archipelago, whose main island is located less than 5 kilometers from the Chinese coast. At its closest point, at low tide, the distance is reduced to less than 2 kilometers.
Rumors that the soldier had fled to China soon spread. The incident raised some concern in the Taiwanese military about the possibility that Chen turns out to be a defector and reveals classified information on military deployment and localization, at a time of high tensions between Beijing and Taipei.
Beijing has stepped up military pressure on Taiwan in recent years, using drones to spy on Erdan and other frontline islands.
Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August 2022 sparked fury in China, and since then the military has conducted daily drills near the Taiwan Strait.
Chiu Tai-sandirector of the Continental Affairs Council, in charge of cross-strait policy, confirmed on Monday that Chen was safe in the Chinese city of Xiamen. He added that he would do his best to bring him back to Taiwan.
The military is unclear on the reasons for the disappearance of Chen, a low-ranking soldier. His colleagues and relatives assured that in the days prior to his disappearance had behaved normally and They also ruled out that it was a matter of debtspersonal disputes or problems in your work environment.
Regarding the accusations and speculation that the soldier is a defector, Taiwan’s Defense Minister, Chiu Kuo-chengsaid Tuesday that “regardless of the fact that it has some ability to access military intelligence, which we neither confirm nor deny, we would not need to make any large-scale strategic adjustments to mitigate it.”
On his return, the soldier will be subjected to an investigation by the Ministry of Defence, the only government body that can determine if you are a defector.
According to the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces, a soldier who is absent from his post without permission for more than six days can be imprisoned for up to three yearsarrested or fined up to 300,000 Taiwan dollars, about 9,000 euros.
A soldier who deserts or attempts to evade military service for a longer period can be imprisoned for up to five years, or a minimum of seven if he takes with him weapons or ammunition for military use.
As a precaution, some Taiwanese legislators have suggested that the Army could replace all members of Kinmei’s command.
Between 1950 and 1980 it was common for deserters from both territories to swim across between Kinmen and China.
Among them is justin lineconomist and former vice president of the World Bank, who swam from Kinmen to Xiamen in 1979.
During those years, even cash rewards were offered to deserterssince the governments considered it a propaganda victory.
The number of defections fell sharply after both sides They stopped offering these rewards in the 1990s.