Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), whose husband Lee Ming-che (李明哲) was detained by Chinese authorities more than three weeks ago, has faced hostility and vitriolic criticism after she refused help from a “fixer” who offered her “unofficial” assistance with her husband’s case.
Interestingly, the attacks have been launched most enthusiastically harsh by the pro-China camp in Taiwan.
When Lee Ching-yu’s travel documents were arbitrarily canceled by the Chinese authorities, forcing her to cancel a trip to China, she revealed that a “broker” had offered his help.
This broker sought to keep her efforts to win her husband’s release low key and urged against “championing human rights and ideals” or engaging in “antagonistic activities,” Lee Ching-yu said.
The broker, Lee Chun-min (李俊敏), who was once jailed in China, later said that his earnest concern had been depicted as suspicious.
Lee Ching-yu was correct to say no to the kind of personal favors that have often been used by Beijing to sidestep formal, transparent oversight and communication that would suggest recognition of Taiwan’s government.
Whatever Lee Chun-min’s intentions, his efforts appear to have played into Beijing’s hand. On the same morning that Lee Ching-yu’s travel document was canceled, a letter allegedly written by Lee Ming-che was delivered to his home.
His mother reportedly said that her daughter-in-law had asked her not to accept the letter, and that she was “deeply saddened” by the request.
However, the story of the letter was only published by the China Review News Agency (Taiwan), a media outlet that claims to be funded solely with Taiwanese money and to not be subordinate to the Chinese-funded China Review News Agency in Hong Kong. It says it only “supplies Taiwanese stories” to the Hong Kong office.
Going by Lee Chun-min’s remarks, he was either the one or among those who delivered the letter to Lee Ming-che’s mother. This begs the question, how was this particular news agency the only one with first-hand access to the scene?
If the Chinese government chose to handle matters this way, it has only itself to blame for Lee Ching-yu’s distrust.
Criticism of Lee Ching-yu intensified significantly since Monday. Some in Taiwan speculated that the couple’s relationship must have been bad for her to hurt prospects of his release.
Asking her mother-in-law not to accept the letter was a “fascist” move that only “believers in Taiwanese independence shit” could empathize with, an assistant to a former cross-strait affairs official said.
A veteran journalist affiliated with a pro-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) paper called Lee Ching-yu “human scum.”
Her “political ambition” had “diminished her humanity,” KMT Central Policy Committee director Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said, amid hints that she might seek to run for office.
Former KMT lawmaker Chiu Yi (邱毅) called her actions a “political performance” that would only exacerbate her husband’s plight.
Interestingly, these remarks correspond to yesterday’s threat from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office that “deliberately stirring up trouble would only hurt” Lee Ming-che’s interests.
It is puzzling to see how in the eyes of Lee Ching-yu’s detractors, victims of unwarranted arrest and silencing, who are only demanding transparent and public process, deserve harsher criticism than the perpetrator.
One wonders why Lee Ching-yu’s defiance has offended their sensibilities. Could it be that their own interests and political beliefs are at stake?
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