Taiwan officials yesterday said they still hoped China would repatriate Liu Shan-chung who was responsible for hijacking a Taiwanese airliner to the mainland on Monday. Chief Cabinet spokesman Su Chi said Taipei 'could understand' the need to detain and carry out 'the necessary interrogations' on Liu. But Taipei still expected the eventual return of Liu so he could stand trial for air piracy in Taiwan, Mr Su said. He also urged China to resume negotiations on hijacker repatriations with Taipei. Mr Su, who dealt with a spate of 12 cross-Taiwan Strait hijackings in 1993 and 1994 while serving as a vice-chairman of the Cabinet's Mainland Affairs Council, said a consensus had been reached just before Beijing broke off the negotiations. Liu Teh-hsun , director of the Legal Affairs Department at the Mainland Affairs Council, said Taipei 'couldn't rule out' the possibility of repatriating 16 hijackers. Most of the hijackers were still in prison after being convicted on air piracy charges, while those who had completed their sentences were being held in a detention centre for illegal immigrants pending deportation, he said. During his last visit to Taiwan in July 1995, Tang Shubei, Beijing's deputy chief negotiator with Taiwan was party to a broader consensus that hijackers should be repatriated to the side the hijacked aircraft belonged to, Mr Liu said. Taipei was not opposed to returning mainland hijackers as long as Beijing would recognise the time they had already spent prison in Taiwan, he explained. Observers said the repatriation of Liu - the first Taiwanese to hijack a passenger aircraft to the mainland - was unlikely to be soon.