Beijing is using Taiwanese human rights campaigner Lee Ming-che’s (李明哲) case as a warning to all foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China, exiled Chinese democracy campaigner Wang Dan (王丹) said yesterday.
In a telephone interview with the Central News Agency, Wang, who was one of the student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and now lives in Washington, said that China is making an example of Lee to warn foreign NGOs operating within its borders to abide by its regulations.
The Chinese government has tightened its regulation of foreign NGOs in recent years and will continue to do so, given that it is trying to control the influence they have inside the country, he said.
Notable examples of tighter scrutiny include a charity law that took effect in the middle of last year and a foreign NGO law that went into effect earlier this year, both of which mandate extensive registration and reporting requirements.
Chen Yu-huan (陳語歡), who has operated his own NGO in China for five years, says that Beijing has adopted a more regulated and standardized approach.
The government is not going to tolerate unchecked growth and development beyond its control, he said.
International media reports have said that foreign NGOs are having a hard time coping with the new NGO law, which gives the police a wide range of powers to question their foreign workers, inspect their offices, review documents, and even confiscate premises and assets.
Even the charity law, which seems like a benign law to ensure the proper use of charitable donations, could be used by the Chinese government to “tame” charitable groups, said Wang Hsin-hsien (王信賢), an associate professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies.
In Beijing, Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan (安峰山) yesterday told a regular media briefing that individuals in China must obey the laws of the country and any violation will be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
Referring to Lee’s case, An said that “any attempts to use this case for political means, to influence or slander the mainland’s handling of the case in accordance with the law, or to attack the mainland’s political or legal systems will all be futile.”
The legal rights of Lee and his family had been upheld and guaranteed, An said, adding that an “open” trial was broadcast by the court in videos and on the social media network Weibo.
A meeting between Lee and his wife and mother had been arranged after the hearing at the request of his family, An said.
However, activists who had travelled to Yueyang, Hunan Province, to support Lee said after his trial on Monday that they had been barred from attending, saying that was proof the case was not truly open or fair.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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