Hijack hostages return to China

By TED CHAN  |  May 10, 1983
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PEKING -- Weeping and showered with flowers, the passengers and crew of the first airliner ever hijacked out of China landed in Shanghai Tuesday, culminating a historic agreement between two nations that have not communicated since the Korean War.

The five men and a woman who hijacked a British-built Trident jetliner of Peking's national airline, CAAC, remained in South Korea for trial, avoiding almost certain execution in China.

The 87 passengers and eight crew members of the hijacked plane arrived weeping at Shanghai airport and were showered with bouquets of flowers from relatives and a crowd of about 200 well-wishers, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Shanghai Vice Mayor Ruan Chongwu later gave a reception for the former hostages and demanded the return of the hijackers to China for punishment, Xinhua said. Chinese law mandates a death sentence for hijacking.

The hijacking last week was the first time a Chinese plane was forced out of the country. Two crew members were wounded.

The passengers and crew were escorted back to Shanghai by CAAC director general Shen Tu, who led an unprecedented 33-member delegation to Seoul for the first diplomatic contact between the two nations since the Korean war.

In three days of talks, Shen sought the return of the hijackers but Seoul resisted.

China also was thwarted in its attempts to omit mention of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea, as South Korea is known, from the agreement providing for repatriation of the plane, passengers and crew.

China supported North Korea in the 1950-53 Korean war and still has no diplomatic representation in Seoul, and the agreement forced China to grant de facto recognition of South Korea.

'Both sides have expressed the hope to maintain the spirt of cooperation, amply manifested in handling the incident,' in future crises, the memorandum said.

The hijacked airliner is expected to be flown to China Wednesday.

South Korea apparently wanted to make a good impression on the Chinese. The passengers were treated as dignitaries in Seoul, given tours and free rooms and meals in a plush hotel, where their bill topped $28,000, officials said.

Three Japanese passengers returned to Japan last Friday. A ninth crew member, one of two crewmen wounded in the hijacking, will stay in Seoul until he can travel.

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