Taiwanese and Hong Kong democracy activists yesterday called for the immediate release of human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who has been detained incommunicado in China for two weeks.
Lee, an instructor at Wenshan Community College and a former Democratic Progressive Party employee, “disappeared” after his arrival in China from Macau on March 19. The Chinese government only announced 10 days later that Lee had been detained for engaging in “activities endangering national security.”
New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and former Sunflower movement leaders Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) and Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) took part in a Taipei news conference where they condemned Lee’s detention and urged other nations, especially the US, to pay closer attention to China’s human rights violations.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
Their appeal came ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) scheduled meeting on Thursday with US President Donald Trump.
China under Xi has stepped up its suppression of rights activists over the past five years, Wong said, reminding reporters that he been stopped from entering Thailand in October last year, when he had been due to speak in Bangkok, and was detained for 12 hours before being sent back to Hong Kong.
Wong blamed Chinese pressure for the incident.
Wong said that Lee’s detention and the Trump-Xi meeting were behind his decision to call yesterday’s news conference, because he fears that human rights issues might be pushed aside in the trade-focused talks.
“As a long-term supporter of human rights and democracy, the US should not compromise those values in exchange for trade opportunities,” Huang said.
A Chinese law on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which limits the activities of such groups in China, exposes international human rights activists to the risk of being detained in China the way that Lee has been, the lawmaker said.
“It is understandable why Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu (李淨瑜), decided not to employ a lawyer to rescue her husband since the detention could be a means of political suppression and the judicial process in China is of an ‘ornamental nature,’” Huang said.
“We have seen the helplessness of the Lee family against China’s authoritarian government. In addition to NGOs, our government has to provide staunch support for Lee Ching-yu,” Huang said.
The NPP lawmaker was sharply critical of the Straits Exchange Foundation amid reports that it had denied a request from Lee Ming-che’s family to deliver his blood pressure medication to him.
The foundation should be abolished if it could not even attend the basic medical needs of a Taiwanese held in China, Huang said.
“The Lee Ming-che case is a touchstone of Beijing’s attitude toward [NGO] activities in China ahead of the Trump-Xi talks. It is yet to be seen whether China will continue to suppress such activities,” Lin said. “The US cannot excuse itself from China’s human rights violations if it wants to reassure its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.”
There has been no word from Beijing on the charges against Lee Ming-che and it has also refused to disclose his whereabouts, something that should concern activists worldwide, Lin said.
The Sunflower movement in 2014 prevented a cross-strait trade in services agreement from being approved without due legislative process, and the current government was elected on the back of a newly formed public consensus about China, “but what does that prove when there is still a Taiwanese being held in China?” Chen said.
The detention of Lee Ming-che is not an isolated incident and Xi’s suppression of rights activists is being rigorously carried out, with participants and supporters of Hong Kong’s Umbrella movement in 2014 facing prosecution and likely prison sentences, Chen said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comment that the US and China would pursue relations on the principles of “non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation” used rhetoric akin to that of the Chinese Communist Party, Chen said.
Many fear that the US might allow China to retain its “core interests” of Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he said.
Huang, Wong, Lin and Chen asked Beijing to disclose Lee Ming-che’s whereabouts and ensure his rights to visitation, medical care and legal assistance.
EMBRACE CHANGE: Jensen Huang told NTU graduates that instead of worrying about AI itself, they should worry that people with expertise in AI would be taking their jobs Artificial intelligence (AI) is redefining the computer industry, and Taiwanese companies could play a major role in replacing the world’s traditional computers as they are the foundation of the industry, Nvidia Corp cofounder and CEO Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) said in Taipei yesterday. Huang made the remarks while giving the keynote speech at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) commencement ceremony. AI has created immense opportunities, and versatile companies can be expected to take advantage and boost their position, while less flexible firms would perish, he said. “In every way, this is a rebirth of the computer industry and a golden opportunity for the companies of
‘ARCHAIC’: An interpretation of a law that considered Chinese as Taiwanese nationals was scrapped after the death of a Chinese in Kaohsiung led to state reparations An administrative mandate to consider Chinese as Taiwanese citizens was outdated, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday, a day after the Executive Yuan ordered that agencies disregard the 30-year-old interpretation. Chen made the remarks at an event held by the Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei following changes to the administrative mandate concerning the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例). The previous interpretation of the law was archaic and contrary to the workings of laws and regulations, he said, adding that the order was made to avoid unnecessary problems created by the mandate. The Mainland
NOT BUYING IT: One of the goals of Beijing’s Cross-Strait Media People Summit was to draw mainstream media executives to discuss the ‘one country, two systems’ formula Taiwanese news media insist on press freedom and professionalism, and would never become a tool of China’s “united front” campaign, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday, responding to media queries about the lack of Taiwanese media executives at the Cross-Strait Media People Summit in Beijing. Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Chairman Wang Huning (王滬寧) was reportedly furious that no Taiwanese media representatives attended a scheduled meeting with him on Thursday last week. “Beijing should take Taiwan’s determination to pursue freedom and democracy seriously. We also hope that it will not use vicious means to interfere with Taiwan’s development into a
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The legislative amendments aim to protect the rights of families to reunify, and to attract skilled professionals to stay and work in Taiwan Foreigners who are highly skilled professionals, top-prize winners in professional disciplines, investment immigration applicants or have made special contributions to Taiwan can soon apply for permanent residency on behalf of their spouses and minor or disabled children after the legislature approved amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). The amendments, which were proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and approved by the Executive Yuan on Jan. 12, aim to attract foreign talent to Taiwan and encourage them to stay. They would take effect once they are signed by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The amendments involved changing 63 articles, making it the biggest