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China bars wife of detained Taiwan activist from visiting
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) April 10, 2017

Taiwan protested Monday after Beijing blocked a visit by the wife of a Taiwanese rights activist whose detention in China has further soured relations.

Lee Ching-yu was planning to fly to Beijing Monday afternoon in her bid to "rescue" husband Lee Ming-cheh, who is under investigation in China for suspected activities "endangering national security".

But she was told by the airline that she could not board the plane because her travel permit to the mainland has been revoked.

"I am surprised, shocked and saddened. Does the Chinese government really need to exercise so much power to stop a weak woman like me from going?" she told reporters at the airport near Taipei, her voice cracking with emotion.

The detention is the latest in a series of incidents that have heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei since China-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen won Taiwan's leadership last year.

Beijing deeply mistrusts her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, and has severed official communications with Taipei since she took office.

NGO worker Lee, 42, was last heard from on March 19 before he entered the southeastern Chinese city of Zhuhai from the semi-autonomous city of Macau.

"The government strongly protests that China bars Ms Lee from visiting by revoking her valid travel documents," said Chiu Chui-cheng, vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top policymaking body on China.

"We urge the Chinese side to clarify the truth, to disclose where Lee's been held and allow visitation by his family as soon as possible, as well as ensuring his early and safe release."

Taiwanese rights groups said Lee was first person detained since a Chinese law governing the activities of overseas NGOs went into effect this year.

Lee, also known as Li Ming-che, had been sharing "Taiwan's democratic experiences" with online Chinese friends and sent them books, according to a petition for his release led by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.

Lee, who works for a community college in Taipei, also told his friends to donate to the families of human rights lawyers detained by China, the petition said.

Lee Ching-yu said she was warned by a "cross-strait middleman" that Lee's "confession" would be aired on television if she insisted on flying to Beijing, while he would be released soon if she cooperated.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since 1949 following a civil war on the mainland. But Beijing still claims it as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Reporters Without Borders opens first Asia office in Taiwan
Taipei (AFP) April 7, 2017
International rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders said it is opening its first Asia office in Taiwan after rejecting Hong Kong over concerns that China poses the "biggest threat" to press freedom. Also known by its French name Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), the Paris-based organisation decided against their original choice of Hong Kong, citing deteriorating freedom in the semi-autono ... read more

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