Beijing’s detention of Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) is the height of absurdity in the eyes of the Taiwanese public — one that has damaged cross-strait relations while highlighting the fragilitiy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime, Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen (董立文) said.
Lee went missing since arriving on the Chinese mainland from Macau on March 19. Ten days later, Beijing said that Lee was being held in custody for “suspected involvement in activities endangering national security.”
Lee’s wife on Monday was prevented from boarding a plane to Beijing to search for her husband after her “Taiwan compatriot travel document” was canceled by the Chinese government.
Tung said that Chinese authorities have yet to say what laws Lee had broken.
Based on its past actions, Beijing will attempt to blacken Lee’s name, like what it did with the owner and staff of Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong, Tung said.
Chinese state securities organizations might be orchestrating the case against Lee, Tung said, adding that the political authority of these organizations is so great, they are beyond the reach of ordinary offices tasked with handling Taiwan affairs.
Lee might be accused of breaking highly controversial state security laws passed by China in recent years, such as the National Security Act, the Act to Regulate Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations and the Internet Security Act, he said.
The incident shows that Beijing is willing to sacrifice its global image, justice and equality, and even its own laws to maintain an image of national stability, he added.
Tung cited the case of another Taiwanese — Falun Gong member Bruce Chung (鍾鼎邦) — who was detained by China in 2012, during the administration of then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
The government obtained Chung’s release through “unofficial private channels,” which shows the limitations of cross-strait negotiation channels and mechanisms, Tung said.
He urged the Chinese leadership to act wisely and contain the damage that the incident has inflicted on cross-strait relations.
Alexander Huang (黃介正), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said that China is tightening security ahead of the CCP’s 19th National Congress this year.
While the government’s job is to protect its citizens, it might prove difficult now, Huang said.
Huang called for the establishment of a “mutually respected communications channel” that would best serve cross-strait interaction.
He also called on the government and human rights groups to respect the choice and opinions of Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), adding that neither the government nor the groups should attempt to use the issue for their own agenda.
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