Asia

Chinese dissident says he will seek asylum in Taiwan

A Chinese dissident who abandoned his tour group while in Taiwan says he will apply for political asylum on Tuesday in hopes of staying on the self-governing island to promote democracy on the mainland.

Zhang Xiangzhong said in an interview Monday that he hoped Taiwanese officials would take a "tolerant" view toward his appeal but acknowledged there were legal hurdles.

Taiwan does not offer political asylum to Chinese citizens although they sometimes offer permits for long-term residence.

Zhang's case could further exacerbate cross-strait tensions weeks after China detained a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che during a trip to the mainland.

Zhang told the AP that he was inspired to defect after hearing about Lee's story.

Zhang was previously jailed for three years for participating in a mainland civil rights movement.