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Chinese Stowaway Asks for Political Asylum

October 2, 1991

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A Chinese pro-democracy activist sought political asylum Wednesday after fleeing to the United States as a stowaway on a ship from Hong Kong.

″It feels good to be here,″ Ma Xin, 22, said through an interpreter. ″It’s been a busy morning.″

Ma said he fled to Hong Kong fearing he would be arrested for his work in the democracy movement. The fledgling movement was crushed near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Hundreds were killed by People’s Army troops. Threatening telephone calls he received in Hong Kong prompted his flight to the United States on Sept. 13.

The freighter he hid in arrived across the bay in Oakland on Wednesday morning. Immigration officials escorted him off the ship.

Ma went free after relatives and friends posted $1,000 bond Wednesday afternoon. He told his attorney, Jimmy Hom, that he was looking forward to spending time in San Francisco and the United States. His first stop was Chinatown, for lunch.

In a letter to The Associated Press in Hong Kong, Ma said he was a pro- democracy leader in Landzhou, a city in northwest China, where he attended the Gan Shu Chinese Medical College.

″After the June 4th massacre, I was arrested and interrogated numerous times by the city authorities,″ he wrote. ″After that I decided to flee to Hong Kong.″

Ma and his sister, Ma Yuan, 27, fled to Hong Kong in September 1989, but they believed agents from Beijing were tracking them.

He received phone calls in Hong Kong from men who told him, ″China was watching me.″

″That makes me afraid,″ he said. ″I’m not a famous dissident, I’m just a medical student. These guys could kill me or make me disappear and no one would know the difference.″

Ma Yuan, an engineer and computer scientist who worked in a Chinese military-industrial factory in the city of Tianjin, left Hong Kong in June and sought asylum in Seattle the following month.

A pro-democracy Chinese group in the San Francisco Bay area posted a $1,000 bond to ensure Ma Xin’s freedom as he pursues asylum, said his attorney, Jimmy Hom.

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