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BBC: Taiwanese rights advocate Lee Ming-che held in China

Thursday, March 30, 2017

29 March 2017

■ A prominent Taiwanese human rights advocate has been detained in China and is under investigation on suspicion of harming national security, the Chinese government has said.

It is the first official comment about Lee Ming-che since he went missing in southern China earlier in March.

Mr Lee - a regular visitor to China - went missing after
entering the semi-autonomous Chinese territory of Macau on
19 March
Mr Lee is in good health, officials say. No details have been released about where he is being held.

He specialises in promoting human rights and democracy on social media.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing says that his detention fits a pattern of increasing intolerance in China of human rights and civil society activists, including those based overseas.

Earlier this week China banned a visiting professor - a Chinese national but with permanent Australian residency - from leaving the country, apparently because of his human rights research.

Mr Lee - a regular visitor to China - went missing after entering the semi-autonomous Chinese territory of Macau on 19 March. He failed to attend a meeting later that day with a friend across the border in mainland China.

Taiwan said China's failure to release details about Mr Lee was
casing "anxiety and panic" to his family - his wife is third
from the right AP
"Regarding Lee Ming-che's case, because he is suspected of pursing activities harmful to national security, the investigation into him is being handled in line with legal procedures," Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said.

Friends and supporters of Mr Lee say the authorities may have been alerted after he used the social media platform WeChat as a forum to debate China-Taiwan relations.

Taiwan's governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said over the weekend that China's failure to release details about Mr Lee was causing "anxiety and panic" to his family. It demanded better protection for Taiwanese people in China.

Mr Ma insisted however that said Taiwanese people coming to China for "normal" activities did not have anything to worry about.

China has been accused by rights groups of numerous
arbitrary detentions EPA
"The mainland has rule of law," he said. "On this point, Taiwan compatriots can rest at ease."

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the last year, mainly because China is resentful of the DPP's traditional support for Taiwanese independence.

China strictly curtails freedom of speech and is frequently criticised by rights groups for arbitrary detentions, official brutality, widespread corruption, a lack of transparency, a pliant judiciary and little in the way of democracy.

It is also extremely sensitive to criticism and has cracked down on domestic critics.

ChinaAid Media Team
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