Taiwan Soldier Vanished During Roll Call. He Just Reemerged

Missing soldier turns up on Chinese mainland; it's still unclear if he's a deserter
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2023 10:25 AM CDT
Taiwan: Vanished Soldier Has Turned Up in China
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Tomas Ragina)

During roll call on Thursday on the island of Erdan, located just a few miles off of China's coast, a Taiwanese soldier was reported missing. Now, he's apparently reemerged, and not on Erdan, part of the Taiwan-run Kinmen islands in the Taiwan Strait. "It has been confirmed that he is in mainland China," Chiu Tai-san, who heads up Taiwan's policymaking Mainland Affairs Council, said Monday, per AFP, which notes that the incident "comes at a time of heightened tensions between China and self-ruled Taiwan." As for the circumstances surrounding the soldier's disappearance, Chiu noted the government will "follow up on the situation," adding, "The Defense Ministry has relevant mechanisms for identifying deserters."

Details on the soldier are scarce, though CNN reports his surname was given as Chen. Reuters notes that during the Cold War, defectors from both sides would take the plunge and swim through the strait to "freedom." There haven't been many defectors as of late, but CNN reports that when they were more prevalent, they were "seen as huge propaganda wins—and sometimes rewarded in cash." It notes one such case from the early '80s involving a Taiwanese air force major who was given $370,000 by the Chinese government for making his way to the mainland with a US-built reconnaissance plane. The distance between the coast of China and the main island of Kinmen during low tide is about 1.6 miles. (More Taiwan stories.)

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