Beijing would continue to make arrangements for family members of Taiwanese democracy advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) to visit him in jail, a Chinese government spokesman said yesterday.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) made the pledge after Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), the wife of Lee Ming-che, told a news conference on Saturday last week that Chinese authorities have twice denied her request to visit him.
“As far as we know, Lee was transferred back to Chishan Prison in Hunan Province on Oct. 28,” Ma said. “Regarding family visitation issues, the prison has explained to his family, in an appropriate way, why their request was denied this time.”
However, Lee Ching-yu said that Chinese authorities have given no explanation why her husband was returned to the Hunan prison two weeks after being moved to a prison in Hebei Province.
Ma said that prison authorities had been handling visitation rights for Lee Ming-che’s family members in accordance with the law since he began serving his prison term, adding that his family members had visited him several times and visits would continue to be arranged.
Lee Ming-che has been detained in China since March last year, when he entered Guangdong Province from Macau.
He was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of “subversion of state power” in November last year, because of comments he made and information he circulated on social media about democracy, freedom of expression and human rights in China.
Lee had been serving his sentence at Chishan Prison since Dec. 28 last year, but a Taiwanese business association in Hunan on Oct. 19 said that it was notified by the Chinese government that Lee had been transferred to Yancheng Prison in Hebei.
Lee’s family members are allowed to visit him once a month, according to a visitation notice they received from Chishan Prison in January.
His wife visited him in March, May, June, July and September, but her visitation requests have been denied twice since last month.
Lee Ching-yu said temperatures in Hebei can fall to 2°C, compared with 12°C in Hunan, so the abrupt transfer raised concerns about her husband’s health, particularly after her requests were denied.
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