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Chinese Plane Hijacked to Taiwan

October 28, 1998 GMT

TAOYUAN, Taiwan (AP) _ An Air China jet with 104 people aboard was hijacked to Taiwan today by its disgruntled pilot, who allegedly told authorities he staged the incident because he was angry over his pay and working conditions.

Flight CA905 took off from Beijing to the southern Chinese city of Kunming, but it was diverted in the air and arrived safely under military jet escort at Taiwan’s main international airport this morning. No passengers were hurt, officials said.

The captain, identified as Yuan Bin, brought his wife along. Taiwan Television showed the captain in his uniformed white shirt, carrying a suitcase as he was led out of the plane by policemen in helmets and bullet-proof vests. His wife, identified as Xu Mei, was shown in a black coat.

Interior Minister Huang Chu-wen said Yuan admitted he diverted the Boeing 737 to Taiwan because he was displeased with Air China’s policies and his pay. It was not immediately clear what Yuan hoped to accomplish.

``There was no political motive,″ Huang said.

Chang Chia-ju, Taiwan’s aeronautics chief, said Yuan would be detained to face trial in Taiwan. Authorities were planning to let Air China’s other pilots fly the jetliner and its 95 passengers and eight remaining crew members back to China.

Air China, the main airline run by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, had two pilots and two co-pilots aboard the flight that was scheduled to have continued from Kunming to Yangon, Myanmar.

Defense Ministry officials said the Air China jetliner was escorted to the airport by four Taiwanese warplanes, which took off after spotting the jet on radar.

There was a spate of hijackings from China to Taiwan in 1993 and 1994 by Chinese who said they were seeking freedom and better job prospects.

But Taiwanese Premier Vincent Siew condemned today’s incident.

``We’ve never agreed to such deeds,″ he told reporters _ although Taiwan used to shower hijackers from mainland China with gold and cash rewards. Taiwan began cracking down on the hijackers after long-standing tensions with the mainland began easing in the 1980s.

The 16 hijackers arrested in the 1990s have all been jailed for up to 10 years. Two of them were paroled and sent back to China.

China has demanded that Taiwan send all the hijackers back. The two sides were near reaching an agreement about the repatriation in 1995 when China broke off the talks in anger over a Taiwanese drive to gain diplomatic recognition.

Hijackings in the opposite direction, from Taiwan to the mainland, have been rare.

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