A former Democratic Progressive Party staffer and human rights advocate is missing after traveling to China on Sunday, sparking concern among family and friends that he might have been kidnapped by the Chinese authorities following Taiwan’s crackdown on Chinese spies.
Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who works at Taipei’s Wenshan Community College, was first reported missing on Monday by the US-funded news outlet Radio Free Asia (RFA), which said Lee went to the Chinese mainland through Macau on Sunday morning, where he made a last telephone call to a friend, Chinese writer Liu Ermu (劉爾目).
The RFA quoted Liu as saying he was worried that Lee had been “put under the control” of Chinese authorities because Lee is known to have been closely following Chinese human rights issues.
Lee’s wife said he had planned to go to Guangdong Province to seek medical assistance for his mother-in-law.
Lee was scheduled to stay at a hotel in Guangzhou on Sunday night, but did not check in and his telephone has since been turned to voicemail mode, Liu said.
Lee has made various exchanges with Chinese non-governmental organizations (NGOs), his friends said.
Some of his friends said they are afraid he has been arrested by Chinese authorities on fraudulent charges or that it was a countermove by Beijing following Taiwan’s arrest of a former Chinese student on espionage charges.
Cheng Hsiu-chuan (鄭秀娟), the president of the community college who has maintained close contact with Lee’s family, on Tuesday said that the Beijing government has stepped up its surveillance and control over representatives and employees of workers of Chinese NGOs this year.
Cheng said Lee’s family and friends, who have been trying to ascertain his whereabouts with the help of Chinese NGOs, are bracing for the possibility that Lee has been detained for “political” reasons.
The Mainland Affairs Council said it had sought assistance from Macau’s government and police, which said Lee entered the mainland from Zhuhai, Guangdong, at 11:51am on Sunday, but there is no record of him checking in at the hotel or being arrested.
The council said that as of Tuesday night, it had not received any report about Lee being detained.
Straits Exchange Foundation spokesperson Lee Li-jane (李麗珍) said the foundation had contacted China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, as well as the local government, police and Taiwanese businesspeople associations in China for help locating Lee Ming-che.
The foundation has also asked the Criminal Investigation Bureau to seek the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s cooperation in locating Lee Ming-che, the spokesperson said.
Additional reporting by Alison Hsiao
SEARCH CONTINUES: The fighter jet disappeared from radar screens at 3:23pm, about 30 minutes after it took off, air force Major General Liu Hui-chien said Search-and-rescue teams yesterday searched for an air force pilot after his F-16V Block 20 jet went missing during an afternoon bombing exercise near the coastline of Chiayi County’s Dongshih Township (東石鄉), the air force said. The search continued as of press time last evening. The single-seat jet (serial number 6650) disappeared from radar screens at 3:23pm, about 30 minutes after it took off from Chiayi Air Base, air force Inspector General Major General Liu Hui-chien (柳惠千) told a news conference in Taipei. All F-16Vs are temporarily suspended from exercises pending the completion of emergency checks on the fleet, he said. The fighter piloted by
PROTECTION: The New Taipei City mayor said a pass could cover stores, but not eateries, while Ko Wen-je said vaccinated people could be exempted from some rules Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) on Saturday proposed implementing a “COVID-19 pass” regulation that would allow only vaccinated people into certain areas. New Taipei City is planning to require a “COVID-19 pass” for entry to “vulnerable spaces” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hou said. Non-students entering elementary schools in New Taipei City are required to show their COVID-19 vaccination cards or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. This is for the protection of students under the age of 12, who are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, city officials have said. The
LUNAR NEW YEAR: The nation is expecting 4,200 international travelers to arrive today and 3,900 tomorrow, as people return home for the holidays, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said it expects imported cases of COVID-19 to further increase today and tomorrow — the peak period for international arrivals before the Lunar New Year holiday. The nation has seen more imported cases of COVID-19 since it implemented a new policy on Tuesday requiring travelers on long-haul flights to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival. Those who test positive are taken directly to hospitals from airports. Most of the recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 were travelers arriving from the US, CECC data showed. On Tuesday, 58 of the 625 travelers arriving at Taiwan
TRACEABLE: The expansion of a cluster infection appears to be slowing, as genome sequencing results show a clearer link among confirmed cases, Chen Shih-chung said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 96 COVID-19 infections: four domestic and 92 imported cases. Three of the domestically transmitted cases are bank workers likely linked to previously reported airport clusters, it added. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, attributed the high number of imported cases in part to the implementation on Tuesday of a tighter entry policy. Travelers arriving on long-haul flights are immediately tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and must wait for results of their rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on site. Those who test negative are allowed to proceed with normal