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China Plane Hijacker Tries a Repeat

February 9, 1999 GMT

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ A Chinese man who hijacked a jetliner to Taiwan in 1993 tried to commandeer the plane taking him back to China this week in a last-ditch attempt to avoid repatriation, an official said Tuesday.

During the flight Monday, Yang Mingde approached a Taiwanese official aboard the chartered flight and stabbed him in the neck with a sharpened piece of metal, said Shi Hwei-yow, the head of a foundation in Taiwan that handles relations with China.

Police on the plane then overpowered the assailant, Shi said, and the aircraft landed at its scheduled destination, the Taiwanese-held island of Kinmen near southern China.

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The flight carried Yang and eight other Chinese men, all of whom had been convicted of hijacking Chinese planes to Taiwan in 1993 and 1994 and had served prison sentences there. Two other Taiwanese officials and 20 policemen were on board as well.

Yang and three others who were to join the hijack attempt hid sharpened pieces of metal in their clothes and planned to demand the jet be flown to the United States, Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency quoted police as saying.

The three other men were identified as Lin Wenqiang, Shi Yuepo and Wang Zhihua.

All of the men had tried in vain to convince Taiwanese officials to let them stay on the island, which China considers a renegade province.

The other five Chinese men who did not take part in the attempted hijacking were handed over as planned Tuesday to Chinese police on Kinmen who took them by boat to the mainland.

Taiwan has tried to win assurances that the men will not be tried again in China, but officials say they could face long prison terms or even be executed if China wants to make an example of them to discourage hijacking.

In 1993, Yang, armed with a knife and accompanied by his wife and six-year-old son, hijacked a Chinese jetliner to Taiwan. There, he asked for political asylum, but he was jailed instead.

His wife, Han Fengying, was sent back to China in 1997, after serving four years in prison. She was then tried again in China and sentenced to several years in a labor camp.

Yang, her son, was sent back to China on Saturday.