CARTOON: Will Taiwan be Silenced over Activist Detained in China?

CARTOON: Will Taiwan be Silenced over Activist Detained in China?
Credit: Stellina Chen

What you need to know

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has warned Taiwanese authorities against interfering in the matter.

More than 25 days after detaining a low-profile Taiwanese human rights advocate, China has not disclosed where he is being held or whether he has been formally charged.

Lee Ming-che (李明哲), 42, is being detained in China by a branch of the state security police for “involvement in a threat to national security.” He was reported missing after flying from Taipei to Macau on March 19. Despite the efforts of more than 100 local and international non-governmental organizations since news of his disappearance broke on March 20, very little is known about the reasons for Lee’s detainment, his condition, and what China plans to do with him.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials appear to be pressuring Lee’s wife – who was blocked from traveling to China to seek his release – and the Taiwan government into keeping silent about the case. At a press conference held by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office yesterday, spokesperson An Fengshan (安峰山) warned Taiwanese authorities against interfering in the matter.

Read more:
Wife of Missing Taiwan Activist Told that Local Security Officials Mistakenly Detained Husband
Taiwanese Undeterred Despite Torture Concerns for NGO Worker Detained in China
Is President Tsai’s Handling of the Lee Ming-che Case Adequate?

Timeline

  • March 19: Lee boarded a flight from Taipei to Macau. He was reportedly traveling to a hospital in Zhuhai, Guangdong, southern China, for a medical consultation for his sick mother-in-law.
  • March 20: Reports emerge that friends and family had been unable to contact Lee since he left Taipei. Officials at the Gongbei Customs in Zhuhai, China, refused to answer questions from Radio Free Asia on whether Lee had been blacklisted by Chinese authorities.
  • March 21: Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation told The News Lens officials were using all available channels to try and locate Lee, including Taiwanese businesspeople working in China, the Mainland Affairs Council and local Chinese authorities. No further information was immediately available.
  • March 27: Lee's wife, Lee Ching-yu (李淨瑜), is informed by the Taiwan government that Lee is being detained in China by a branch of China’s security police.
  • March 29: China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) confirms Lee is being held for “involvement in a threat to national security.” Lee’s supporters, including his wife, several Taiwan legislators and human rights advocates hold a press conference in Taipei to call for Lee’s release.
  • April 9: Lee’s wife issues a statement reiterated her position that she would not acknowledge any confessions or statements issued by her husband – for fear they would not be authentic – before she is able to visit him in person. The statement followed reports that an unnamed organization had told her to keep a low profile in order to ensure her husband’s release.
  • April 10: Lee’s wife attempts to travel to China in a bid to uncover where her husband is being held and what charges he faces. She was scheduled to depart Taipei at 1 p.m. but was informed at the airline counter that China's Ministry of Public Security had canceled her travel permit.
  • April 12: Lee Chun-min (李俊敏), the head of the Cross-Strait Services Exchange Center — an organization linked to China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) — said Lee was wrongly arrested because the Guangdong security bureau needed to show performance results under China’s new NGO laws, Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), says in a statement.
  • April 12: China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson An Fengshan (安峰山) warned Taiwanese authorities against interfering in the matter.
  • April 12: A spokesperson for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party says President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told senior officials the government was doing everything in its power to ensure Lee’s return.
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Photo Credit: Stellina Chen

Editor: Olivia Yang


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