China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) yesterday confirmed that 44-year-old Hsinchu native Morrison Lee (李孟居), who had not been heard from since crossing from Hong Kong to China’s Shenzhen late last month, is under investigation on suspicion of engaging in criminal activity harmful to national security, as the Presidential Office and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) demanded that Beijing give a full account of his detention.
TAO spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) told a briefing in Beijing that Lee was being investigated “in accordance with the law,” without giving further details.
Lee went missing on Aug. 20 after he sent photographs of Chinese paramilitary police amassing on the border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong to Fangliao Township (枋寮) Mayor Archer Chen (陳亞麟), who has said that he tried to call Lee later in the day, but could not get through.
Photo courtesy of the Taiwan United Nations Alliance
Lee is an unpaid adviser to the township in Pingtung County and also serves on the board of the Taiwan United Nations Alliance. He had traveled to Hong Kong on Aug. 18 and headed to Shenzhen two days later on a business trip.
Chen last month said that Lee had attended an anti-extradition bill protest while in Hong Kong.
His family said that they had not heard from him since he arrived in Shenzhen.
Photo: Chung Li-hua, Taipei Times
Presidential Office spokesman Chang Chun-han (張惇涵) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday that the government is deeply concerned about Lee’s detention and has asked the MAC and other government agencies to negotiate with Beijing over the issue.
MAC spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) called on Beijing to say, in accordance with the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議), where Lee is being held, and why and when he was detained.
The pact requires Beijing to inform Taipei if a Taiwanese is detained in China.
China should arrange for his family and a lawyer to visit as soon as possible to “ensure the legal rights he is entitled to,” Chiu said.
The council would stay in contact with his family and provide whatever assistance it could, he said.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) called on China to provide more details of the charges against Lee.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) compared Morrison Lee’s case with that of Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who was detained by Chinese authorities in March 2017 and imprisoned that November after being convicted of “subversion of state power.”
He is concerned that China fabricated the charges against Morrison Lee, and said that China’s violation of free speech rights was pushing it farther away from Taiwan, Lee Chun-yi said.
China should release Morrison Lee, the lawmaker said.
KMT caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) called on Chinese authorities to be transparent in their handling of Morrison Lee’s case and allow him to hire a lawyer and allow his family visitation rights.
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