April 10, 2017

Taiwan: Wife of Detained Activist Lee Ming-cheh Barred from Entering China

Ms Lee Ching-yu, the wife of human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh was recently prevented from entering China’s mainland without explanation. Her husband is unreachable since 19 March and suspected of “activities harmful to national security” on China’s mainland. Ching-yu’s trip to Beijing was aimed at delivering medication to her husband and trying to find out what happened to him since his disappearance. 

 

This article has been published by The New York Times:

China’s Ministry of Public Security has barred the wife of a detained Taiwan-born rights activist from flying to Beijing on Monday, adding to the drama surrounding the man’s disappearance after he entered China more than three weeks ago.

The wife, Lee Ching-yu, said at a news conference at Taoyuan International Airport, in northern Taiwan, that her mainland travel permit had been canceled by China, making her ineligible to board her Monday afternoon flight to seek answers about the whereabouts and status of her husband, Lee Ming-cheh.

Ms. Lee said she had not received an explanation for the cancellation of her permit, which is required for people from Taiwan to enter the mainland, as Beijing does not recognize passports from the Republic of China, the island’s official name. China claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its territory and has threatened to annex it by force.

Mr. Lee, 42, has been unreachable since he entered Guangdong Province in southern China from the semiautonomous territory of Macau on March 19. Ten days later, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office confirmed that Mr. Lee was being investigated on suspicion of “activities harmful to national security.”

The denial of any contact with relatives or a lawyer has left Ms. Lee fearing for her husband’s well-being. One of the objectives of her trip to Beijing was to deliver medication he takes for high blood pressure.

“I’m extremely worried,” she said. “I’m extremely concerned.”

Chinese officials have yet to clarify what Mr. Lee had done to warrant his detention over national security concerns. Ms. Lee and others say they believe it is probably connected to his weekly online discussions with Chinese contacts about democracy and transitional justice or his donations of money and books from Taiwan to the relatives of detained Chinese rights lawyers.

On Thursday, Taiwan’s deputy justice minister, Chen Ming-tang, told the local news media that Beijing had not responded to multiple requests for information about Mr. Lee’s location and condition.

It appears that China may have contacted Ms. Lee through unofficial channels in an attempt to silence her. Ms. Lee said an unofficial “fixer” presented her with a photocopied letter on Friday that seemed to have been written by her husband. Claiming that he had written the letter against his will, Ms. Lee said she would not accept any letter or statement by her husband until she had seen him.