China confirms detention of Taiwan pro-democracy activist

"Lee!" she shouted, flanked by legislators and rights activists.

In response, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister and Spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said on Wednesday that the MAC had received no official information from China on the matter, while calling on Beijing to explain the particulars of Lee's detention.

Activists in Taiwan linked Li's detention to a new law targeting foreign non-governmental organizations in China, which grants broad powers to police to question NGO workers, monitor their finances and regulate their work.

The Taiwan Association for Human Rights said Lee Ming-che disappeared after clearing immigration on March 19 in Macau and never showed up for a planned meeting later that day with a friend across the border in China city of Zhuhai.

China's government confirmed Wednesday it is holding a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist and is investigating him on suspicion of "pursuing activities harmful to national security", the latest detention in an ongoing crackdown on civil society. He would discuss human rights in private but had never held any public events there, Cheng said.

"This (Li's) kind of behavior - based on standards of civilized countries - is innocent", Li Ching-yu said.

Lee, 42, has always been vocal about human rights on the mainland and was reported missing after heading to Zhuhai, Guangdong province, from Macau.

"On the way to the airport we talked about our family". The foundation said it would try again on Tuesday, she said.

His wife says she is anxious that he will have run out of necessary medications. The gnawing fears only set in that afternoon, when his friends waiting in Guangzhou messaged her to inquire where he was. On Tuesday, she handed over his hypertension medicine to officials at the Straits Exchange Foundation, a Taiwanese government-backed body that acts as an unofficial intermediary between Taipei and Beijing.

"According to what is understood, Taiwan resident Lee Ming-che is suspected of engaging in activities endangering national security and is being investigated by the relevant authority".

He specialises in promoting human rights and democracy on social media. It demanded better protection for Taiwanese people in China. "It's not only about my husband but about other NGO workers".

Lee is employed by Taipei Wenshan District Community College but used to work for the DPP and had a long-running interest in human rights issues in China. And Amnesty International has also taken up his case.

It said he suffered from high blood pressure and other health problems, and asked that China "please provide the appropriate medical care and ensure his physical health".

Lee had traveled annually to China for the past decade to see friends, Cheng said.

Ma said Taiwanese people coming to China for "normal" activities did not have anything to worry about and their rights would be protected.

What's behind the China-Taiwan divide?

Beijing considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory, and the democratic self-ruled island has oscillated for years between closer ties with China and striking a more independent posture.

"The Mainland Affairs Council has engaged".

"I don't know if the government is really helping or not, but I would prefer to trust them", his wife says. "He believes that if you do nothing, nothing will change".

"For the past 20 years he has been fighting for human rights, even when it hasn't been successful", Lee Ching-yu says.

  • Leroy Wright