Taiwanese activist sentenced in Chinese court

Yueyang People’s Intermediate Court sentenced Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh to five years in jail for state subversion today. Lee was first abducted by Chinese authorities when crossing the border from Macao in March. The court held a “trial” in September.

Lee Ching-yu, Lee’s wife and fellow activist, attended the sentencing with two Straits Exchange Foundation staff and is currently confined to her hotel. Former MP Wang Li-ping (DPP) also traveled with the group but was denied entry to China after landing in Yueyang. After the sentencing, Lee stated he would not appeal the sentence and motioned that he was bugged when briefly meeting his wife.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council stated the sentence to be unacceptable and demanded Lee to be released immediately, although the demand would likely fall on deaf ears due to China cutting off official communication with Taiwan.

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Matters of the heart and soul

During the 19th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of China last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered the following about Taiwan in his speech (begins towards the bottom of page 50):

解决台湾问题、实现祖国完全统一,是全体中华儿女共同愿望,是中华民族根本利益所在。必须继续坚持“和平统一、一国两制”方针,推动两岸关系和平发展,推进祖国和平统一进程。

一个中国原则是两岸关系的政治基础。体现一个中国原则的”九二共识”明确界定了两岸关系的根本性质,是确保两岸关系和平发展的关键。承认”九二共识”的历史事实,认同两岸同属一个中国,两岸双方就能开展对话,协商解决两岸同胞关心的问题,台湾任何政党和团体同大陆交往也不会存在障碍。

两岸同胞是命运与共的骨肉兄弟,是血浓于水的一家人。我们秉持”两岸一家亲”理念,尊重台湾现有的社会制度和台湾同胞生活方式,愿意率先同台湾同胞分享大陆发展的机遇。我们将扩大两岸经济文化交流合作,实现互利互惠,逐步为台湾同胞在大陆学习、创业、就业、生活提供与大陆同胞同等的待遇,增进台湾同胞福祉。我们将推动两岸同胞共同弘扬中华文化,促进心灵契合。

我们坚决维护国家主权和领土完整,绝不容忍国家分裂的历史悲剧重演。一切分裂祖国的活动都必将遭到全体中国人坚决反对。我们有坚定的意志、充分的信心、足够的能力挫败任何形式的”台独”分裂图谋。我们绝不允许任何人、任何组织、任何政党、在任何时候、以任何形式、把任何一块中国领土从中国分裂出去!

Continue reading “Matters of the heart and soul”

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.

Charter 08

In honor of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese dissident who passed away just hours ago, we are posting his dream of a democratic China in the form of his Charter 08, a petition written to advocate for China’s transformation into a true democracy. May he rest in peace and finally be free.

I. Foreword

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China’s first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China’s signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values. Continue reading “Charter 08”

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.

The Economist: Taiwan a flawed democracy

The Economist Intelligence Unit today released its annual Democracy Index, ranking Taiwan to be a “flawed democracy”, a category Taiwan has been in since the inception of the index in 2006. The index ranks countries using 60 indicators across five broad categories: electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties. With a score of 7.79 out of 10, Taiwan is ranked 33rd globally and 5th in Asia, behind Japan (7.99), South Korea (7.92), Israel (7.85), and India (7.71). While Taiwan scored high in electoral process and pluralism (9.58) and civil liberties (9.41), much improvement is needed in political participation (6.11) and democratic political culture (5.63). Notably, the U.S. has been downgraded to a “flawed democracy” this year after the election of Donald Trump. China, with a score of 3.14, is ranked as an “authoritarian regime”.

Also released today, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Taiwan to be the 31st least corrupt country in a list of 176. With a score of 61 out of 100, Taiwan ranks behind Singapore (84), Hong Kong (77), and Japan (72) in Asia.