Missing soldier returns to face questions after ordeal at sea

The China Post staff

A ROC serviceman who had been reported missing at sea and ended up in the mainland returned to Taiwan yesterday, while the military said further investigation would be needed to determine whether it was a case of defection. Private Liu Chin-hung set foot on Matsu after a short ferry ride from mainland China’s Pingtan, where he had been treated at a hospital after being rescued at sea by a mainland fishing boat. Liu was found missing on July 5 from a military-commissioner ship carrying him and other soldiers from Keelung to their posts on Matsu off mainland China’s southeastern shore. But military sources said a life jacket was also missing from the ship, while Liu’s uniform was left on board. Sources from mainland China quoted Liu’s rescuers as saying that the soldier was only wearing a life jacket and a pair of underpants when found. “It feels good to be able to go home,” Liu reportedly told mainland media before boarding the Matsu-bound vessel. But he maintained that he fell overboard “accidentally,” claiming he put on the life jacket only “out of curiosity.” He would not answer queries about why he had taken off his uniform. Upon his return to Matsu, military officials quickly took him to a hospital for a check-up, after which doctors said he was rather weak, but was generally in fair condition. An ad hoc investigation team will start questioning Liu once he is completely recovered, military officials said. Legislator Tsao Yuan-chang, who accompanied Liu back to Matsu, said he would not speculate on the cause of the accident, and would leave the matter to the military. The Matsu-elected lawmaker, who runs a cross-strait service center, was the first to receive news from mainland China about Liu’s rescue.