17 Apr 2003

Chinese officials arrive in Palau to take back stranded workers

4:19 am on 17 April 2003

Palau officials say that Beijing has sent a large delegation to help more than two hundred stranded Chinese factory workers return to their homes.

They have been stranded in Palau since January after their Taiwanese employers Orientex failed to give them their contract-guaranteed tickets home and thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

After a series of peaceful protests, the workers were arrested after barricading themselves inside a restaurant last week.

Beijing has asked that the charges be dropped, saying cultural differences must be considered and their extreme state of mind.

The President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau has said the criminal charges are not a priority, but that getting the workers home as soon as possible is.