The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) on Wednesday released statistics showing that of the 149 Taiwanese reported missing in China since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, 2016, 67 have yet to be found.
They could either have been detained, injured or died in China, SEF spokesperson Tsai Meng-chun (蔡孟君) told a regular news conference in Taipei.
Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chen Ming-chi (陳明祺) yesterday echoed Tsai Meng-chun’s statement, saying that given China’s size, there could be a number of reasons people went missing, such as accidental deaths, debt-related disputes, failed business ventures, or family disputes.
Taiwanese being arrested or oppressed in China due to national security concerns was in the minority, he said.
“Not everything is political in nature,” he added.
Asked about the case of businessman Lee Meng-chu (李孟居), who has been reported missing in Hong Kong since late last month, Tsai Meng-chun said that the SEF had sent four requests to China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) for information on Lee, but it has yet to receive an answer.
Tsai Chin-shu (蔡金樹), chairman of the South Taiwan Cross-Strait Relations Association, which promotes cross-strait interaction, has been missing for more than a year since he went to Xiamen in July last year.
Tsai Meng-chun said the SEF immediately asked ARATS to help locate the missing person, but has also not received a reply.
She urged Chinese authorities to provide information on all of the missing Taiwanese.
Pingtung County Fangliao Township (枋寮) Mayor Archer Chen (陳亞麟) said that Lee, 44, was supposed to meet him on Aug. 27 in Indonesia to attend an international meeting, but he never showed up.
Chen said he feared that Lee’s disappearance could be related to his expression of support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong on his Facebook page.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) on Wednesday last week said that Lee is being questioned by authorities for alleged “criminal activities that could jeopardize China’s national security.”
Ma did not elaborate on the allegations against Lee or his whereabouts.
Chen Ming-chi yesterday also addressed Taiwanese businesspeople’s concern over proposed amendments to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) regarding agents of the Chinese Communist Party.
The amendments would focus on espionage and infiltration attempts by Chinese agents and not on restricting movements by Taiwanese businesspeople, Chen Ming-chi said.
The council is working with the Democratic Progressive Party to cut the number of draft amendments, he said, adding that the council respects the Legislative Yuan’s decision not to prioritize the amendments this legislative session.
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