Missing 26-year-old Taiwanese soldier rescued by Chinese authorities while attempting to swim to Mainland China

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10th March 2023 – (Beijing) The Ministry of National Defence (MND) in Taiwan has revealed that a search is currently underway for a 26-year-old soldier named Chen who failed to report for duty during a roll call on a base in Kinmen County on Thursday (9th March).

According to a press release issued by the Kinmen Defence Command, Chen, a member of the Lieyu Garrison Battalion and a cook, was absent when a roll call was conducted at an Erdan Island base at 1am. After troops were ordered to search his barracks, he could not be located.

According to Taiwan media on Friday (10th), Chen has been found attempting to swim to Mainland China. However, he suffered from exhaustion and was rescued by Chinese authorities. KMT lawmaker Chen Yu-jen stated that Chen was wearing a life jacket and drifted to waters near San Dan Island, where he was rescued by Chinese maritime police and is currently in mainland China.

The Taiwan military’s headquarters said that it had not received any reports from any units and would request the Coast Guard Administration to investigate through cross-strait law enforcement channels to verify the situation. The military will then explain the situation to the public accordingly. Earlier reports suggest that Chen was attempting to swim to China due to debt and emotional issues. However, it is unclear whether he defected or deserted. Further clarification is needed from the military. Taiwan’s Defence Minister responded that the situation is still pending confirmation as no official notification has been received. When asked if he would visit the outlying islands given the recent situation, he said that commanders or chiefs frequently go there and he would be willing to visit if he had time.

Chen, who served in Kinmen since April 2020 as a cook, had normal relationships with his fellow soldiers. After his disappearance, the Erdan defence force immediately searched his dormitory and broadcasted a call for him to assemble, but to no avail. The force then immediately conducted an island-wide search and notified his family to come forward.