The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday that it made numerous efforts to secure the release of a Taiwanese sailor after his ship was hijacked by Somalia pirates in March 2012.
Antonio Chen (???), director-general of the ministry's Department of West Asian and African Affairs, said the government never turned its back on Shen Jui-chang (???), chief engineer on the Omani-flagged fishing vessel Naham 3 when it was seized by Somali pirates.
Amid public complaints that the government did not do enough to secure Shen's release, Chen said "the primary concern was the safety of the crew members and their release."
He noted that faced with a hostage situation, no nation would have agreed to pay the ransom demanded by the pirates, as to do so would have encouraged them to demand an exorbitant amount.
Moreover, any payment on the part of the government would only have resulted in the pirates seizing more vessels for profit, Chen said.
Commenting on Shen's journey to Guangzhou in China on Tuesday following his release, Chen said that the key issue was "to provide protection and humanitarian assistance."
Shen, accompanied by officials from China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, arrived in Guangzhou on Tuesday morning where he was reunited with his wife and daughter. They are scheduled to return to Taiwan on Wednesday.
"There is no need for politicizing on the point of transit," Chen said, adding that "both sides (of the Taiwan Strait) have made efforts in this case."
He noted that since the ship was hijacked in 2012, with a crew of 29 - including Shen and a Taiwanese captain who was killed during the hijacking, the ministry had solicited assistance from the Kuala Lumpur-based Piracy Reporting Centre and the European Union.
As the ship was Omani-flagged, the ministry also asked the Omani government to assist with the case, but with little result.
In June 2015, Shen was reportedly to be released and the ministry made preparations to provide assistance, but the release fell through probably because negotiations on the ransom broke down, Chen said.
The Naham 3 was hijacked in March 2012, roughly 65 nautical miles south of the Seychelles. The captain was killed during the hijacking and two of the original crew -- one Chinese and one Indonesian -- later fell ill and died.
The remaining 26 crew members spent much of their captivity on land in Somalia.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel