Taiwanese-American man held after claiming explosive was in his luggage on flight to China

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A Taiwanese-American man has been detained in China after falsely claiming his luggage contained explosives during a flight from Taipei to the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai, Taiwanese police said Sunday.

Taiwan's China Airlines had to divert the plane with 293 passengers and 22 crew on board to the Chinese city of Hangzhou on Saturday morning after 68-year-old George Lin told the cabin crew about the purported explosives.

China Airlines Spokesman Bruce Chen said no explosive was found on board the plane after it was thoroughly searched on landing in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, where Lin was taken away for questioning by Chinese authorities.

After four hours on the ground, the plane continued on to Shanghai and landed there without further incident.

Mao Kun-yi of Taiwan's Aviation Police Office confirmed Lin's detention in China but could not confirm news reports that Lin had made the claim about explosives in his luggage as a joke.

Lin has U.S. passport, but traveled to China alone on his Taiwanese documents, Mao said. Lin has Chinese business interests, he said, without elaborating.

Staff at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai said Sunday that they could not comment on the case or even confirm there had been an arrest without the signing of a privacy waiver.

China and Taiwan began regular direct flights in 2008 after newly inaugurated Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou moved to reverse his predecessor's pro-independence policies in favor of closer economic ties with the mainland. There are now some 270 weekly flights between the sides.

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949.