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World - Asia/Pacific

Air China pilot hijacks his own jet to Taiwan

October 28, 1998
Web posted at: 6:02 a.m. EST (1102 GMT)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (CNN) -- China has asked its longtime enemy Taiwan to return a pilot who diverted his passenger jet with 104 people on board to the island on Wednesday.

The Air China captain reportedly disgruntled with life in China was intercepted by Taiwanese air force fighters when he was spotted leaving Chinese air space.

The pilot, accompanied by his wife, was being questioned Wednesday by Taiwanese authorities as the aircraft was flown back to China.

CNN's Donna Liu on the disgruntled pilots actions
Windows Media 28K 56K

Taiwanese Interior Minister Huang Chu-wen said Yuan Bin 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 allowed Air China's other pilots fly the jetliner and its 95 passengers and eight remaining crew members back to China.

Flight CA905 had taken off from Beijing to the southern Chinese city of Kunming. A Chinese aviation official confirmed the Air China domestic flight had been hijacked.

No injuries reported

Taiwanese TV showed the captain in his uniformed white shirt and with a suitcase, being escorted out of the plane by policemen in helmets and bullet-proof vests.

No passengers were hurt, according to radio and television reports.

A state radio report cited unnamed officials as saying the captain diverted his Boeing 737 to Taiwan because he apparently was unhappy with his job. Early reports indicated he had brought a young son along, but state radio later reported only the captain's wife had accompanied him.

There was no official confirmation of his identity, and details of the incident remained scarce.

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.

Hijackers in '90s went to prison

Before long-standing tensions between Taiwan and mainland China eased in the 1980s, Taiwan treated hijackers from China leniently, and even showered them with gold and cash rewards.

But 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.

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

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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