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Chinese Sailor Jumps Ship, Seeks Asylum With PM-China, Bjt

June 20, 1989

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ A 28-year-old Chinese sailor jumped ship in Western Australia and authorities said today that they were considering his request for political asylum.

Zhu Jianhua deserted the cargo ship Kin Shing when it docked Saturday in Bunbury, said immigration spokeswoman Jenny Hoskin.

The man claimed he had a pregnant wife in China and that a relative who taught at Beijing University had been shot by the army in Beijing.

Zhu said he was worried letters he had written to friends in China, supporting the pro-democracy movement, had fallen into the hands of Chinese authorities, according to Australian Associated Press.

His request for asylum follows a government directive that all 15,600 Chinese citizens in Australia be allowed to stay at least one more year even if their visas have expired.

Immigration officials said Zhu’s application to remain in Australia was likely to be considered on humanitarian grounds.

The government last week granted asylum to a Chinese diplomat, 35-year-old Sydney Vice Consul Dong Qi. Ms. Qi today told the Foreign Ministry she had no public statement to make about her defection.

″She asks that her privacy be respected,″ said an official, who could not be named as is customary here.

Zhu, who was staying at a seaman’s mission in Perth, had been at sea since Jan. 19, the AAP said.

It said he learned of the political upheaval in China and the army’s June 4 assault on unarmed civilians in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square from Australian and British radio reports. Hundreds of Chinese were killed in the assault and more than 1,300 have been reported arrested since for taking part in unrest.

Zhu told officials he hoped eventually to be reunited with his wife and return to China.

Update hourly