Taiwanese activist tried in China

After Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh was abducted when crossing into China almost six months ago, his wife Lee Ching-yu received a phone call from a Zhang Zhongwei on September 6. Zhang claimed to be Lee’s attorney and asked Lee’s wife to travel to Yueyang, Hunan, China, where Lee would be due to attend trial. Lee’s wife departed for China on September 10 and had to sit through what could only be described as a farce of a trial the next day.

During the trial, Lee “confessed” to charges of “subverting state power” through posting articles on Chinese social media platforms QQ, Weibo, and WeChat with the intent to “maliciously discredit” the Community Party of China and promote democracy. He also added that he received “well-rounded education” during his detention and had come to recognize the progress China made in development. He further expressed his appreciation in China’s “civilized justice system”. The court uploaded Lee’s trial in edited segments to its Weibo account. The court will sentence Lee at a later date.

We may never know what actually led to Lee’s “confession” until and if he is released back to Taiwan. Most people who voted in Taiwan’s election or anyone who has voiced support for an independent Taiwan are guilty of those “charges” Lee “confessed” to. But one thing has never been clearer: China will prosecute and hunt down whoever it wants, under whatever reasons it deems necessary, but it is definitely not convincing any sane Taiwanese that the Communist Party of China, its one-party authoritarian rule, and unification are desirable in Taiwan’s future.

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Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate

After securing a lucrative investment package from China during the visit of Chinese foreigner minister in January this year, Nigeria ordered Taiwan to rename and move its trade office from the current capital, Abuja, to the commercial hub, Lagos, as well as to reduce the number of staff. Numerous negotiations between Taiwan and Nigeria followed, but to no avail.

Facing strong pressure from China, the director of Taiwan trade office was forced to leave the African country on March 31 as Nigeria could no longer guarantee his safety. Yesterday, Nigeria sent military police to close off the Taiwanese office in Abuja and forced staff to leave. Continue reading “Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate”

Taiwan’s quest for global health summit participation

The annual World Health Assembly meeting is scheduled for May 22-31 in Geneva, Switzerland. Taiwan has been lobbying the international health governing body as well as friendly countries for an invitation to attend the meeting, but still has not received an invitation by the registration deadline. Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei in 2009-2016, when the then Ma Ying-jeou government publicly recognized the so-called 1992 Consensus. Since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected into office last January, China has been pressuring her government to accept the consensus. Continue reading “Taiwan’s quest for global health summit participation”

Chinese fishing boat detained for illegal fishing

A Chinese fishing boat was detained by Taiwanese coast guards on Saturday in the waters northwest of Hua Islet, Penghu for operating during closed fishing season, refusing inspection, and fishing in Taiwanese waters.

The fishing boat, Nan’ao 31409 of Guangdong, disregarded the non-fishing period of May 1 to August 16 mandated by Chinese authorities and was found fishing in the Taiwanese side of the Taiwan Strait. The crew ignored numerous inspection requests, attempted to escape, and hung on the edge of the boat to stop coast guards from boarding. The Penghu Maritime Patrol eventually fired rubber bullets to board the vessel. Two of the seven crew members were injured and sent to Penghu for treatment, while the boat and rest of the crew were detained.

In 2016, Taiwanese coast guards dispelled 1325 Chinese fishing boats for fishing in Taiwanese waters, detaining 108. To date in 2017, 346 Chinese boats were dispelled and 36 detained. Requests made to relevant Chinese authorities to restrain fishing boats have been ignored.

‘Blood Diamond’ talks disrupted by Chinese delegation over Taiwan

The Chinese delegation disrupted the opening ceremony of the Kimberly Process, an initiative to stop conflict diamonds, in Perth, Australia on Monday. According to attendees, the Chinese delegation “hijacked the microphone” during a traditional Aboriginal welcoming ceremony, as a Kimberly Process Chair Robert Owens-Jones was introducing Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. They demanded to know whether Taiwan was officially invited to attend the four-day conference and insisted that the meeting be suspended until the matter was resolved.

“It was disgusting,” one high-level Australian attendee told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It was extraordinary, so uncalled for and so inappropriate, and so disrespectful.”

Though not an official member, Taiwan has participated in the Kimberly Process as the Rough Diamond Trading Entity of Chinese Taipei, which meets the minimum requirements of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, since 2007. Taiwan was invited as a “guest of the Chair” this year. The Taiwanese delegation was eventually forced to leave the conference for it to continue.

Taiwanese activist abducted in China

Update (4/10): Lee Ching-yu was denied boarding today at Taoyuan International Airport after the airlines received notification from the Chinese public security ministry that her Mainland Travel Permit has been cancelled.

Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh was reported missing on March 19 after entering the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai from Macau by land. His wife was notified after he failed to meet a friend for a meeting the same day. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office confirmed on March 29 that Lee has been detained and is under investigation on suspicion of harming national security. Chinese authorities have so far refused to release where Lee is being held and when he is expected to be released.

Lee, 42, works at Wenshan Community College in Taipei and frequently travels to China. He has extensive contacts with NGO workers in China and is critical of how human rights lawyers are being treated in China. Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu, is planning on traveling to Beijing on April 10 to seek her husband’s release from relevant authorities.