Several pro-democracy and anti-Chinese influence groups in Taiwan and Hong Kong have requested Mainland China to release Taiwanese activist Lee Ming Cheh, who has been detained by the Chinese authorities for half a month for allegedly “endangering national security”.
A petition was signed by Joshua Wong – a student leader in Hong Kong’s ‘Occupy Central’ movement in 2014 – and Lin Fei Fan and Huang Kuo Chang – the main leaders of Taiwan’s ‘Sunflower Movement’ that protested against the country’s then-proposed improved economic ties with the Mainland in the same year.
The activists urged the Chinese government to release Mr. Lee, who is a political activist and a former member of the Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as the detention has lasted 15 days, the maximum limit for preventive prisons in Mainland China.
They also defended the administrative autonomy of Taiwan and Hong Kong, urging Chinese President Xi Jinping to ‘pay special attention to this specific case’ as he prepares for his first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida between April 6 and 7 this week.
On April 1, more than 20 Taiwanese government organizations warned Mainland China that its detention of the Taiwanese activist was harming bilateral relations between the two parties, and the country’s international image, as it failed to ‘intimidate’ Taiwanese people.
The groups also addressed the lack of response in regards to the whereabouts of Mr. Lee and nature of the accusations against him, stating that the detention would further increase dissatisfaction in Taiwan with Mainland China, harming cross-strait relations.
Missing in action
Mr. Lee, a member of the Taipei Wenshan Community College, went missing on March 19 after entering Zhuhai from Macau.
Nine days after his disappearance, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office revealed that Mr. Lee had been detained for alleged involvement in ‘activities endangering national security’. They claimed he was in good health but did not offer any details on the alleged activities that led to the arrest.
Mr. Lee’s family said he had previously discussed Taiwan’s transition to democracy with friends in China through social media, in addition to delivering donations of books and money to the families of imprisoned human rights lawyers, the New York Times reported.
Last year, a similar outcry ensued after five staff members of Hong Kong bookshop Causeway Bay Books – an independent bookshop primarily selling political books – disappeared, with Mainland China authorities stating afterwards that they had been arrested after travelling to the country voluntarily.
While four of the bookshop staff have been released, Swedish national, Gui Minhai, is still in detention. *With Lusa