Hijacker branded as fleeing swindler

THE hijacker who forced an Air China Beijing 767 to land in Taipei last week is a swindler with huge debts, according to Chinese authorities.

The disclosure came as various delegates to the KMT's 14th party congress indicated Taipei would be willing to discuss with Beijing the issue of the handling of hijackers.

The Chinese Public Security Ministry said yesterday the hijacker, Shi Yuebo, had tried to flee to Taiwan after he had run up huge debts and swindled a bank of large sums of money.

The semi-official China News Service said Shi's main motive was not seeking political asylum in Taiwan but evading police arrest.

Shi, 30, was described as a criminal because he had pocketed thousands of yuan by fraud since 1986. He was indebted to banks and villagers for more than 200,000 yuan (HK$268,000).

At yesterday's KMT congress, delegates said the Taiwan authorities were concerned about the hijacking issue because of its alarming frequency.


Justice Minister Ma Ying-yeou said he encouraged talks between the two governments on the repatriation of hijackers to China.

He said the issue could also be discussed between the two quasi-official organs, Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. (ARATS) ''Hijacking is a serious criminal offence, we have no reason to protect any criminal,'' Mr Ma said.

He indicated, however, that there were international conventions governing the repatriation of hijackers, and that Taiwan would not easily give up its juridical authority.

SEF Secretary-General Cheyne Chiu said yesterday SEF and ARATS officials might discuss the issue of hijacking this month.