China admits detaining Taiwanese human rights activist

Whereabouts of ex-DPP worker unknown

Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – China for the first time admitted Wednesday it had detained a Taiwanese human rights activist and former Democratic Progressive Party worker who went missing more than a week ago.

The latest development follows a statement Tuesday by the wife of Lee Ming-che (李明哲) saying that a Taiwanese government source had told her that her husband had been detained.

Lee crossed over from Macau into Guangdong Province on March 19, reportedly to help arrange medical treatment for his mother-in-law, but nothing was heard from him since.

At a regular news conference in Beijing Wednesday morning, government-level Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) for the first time acknowledged that Lee had been detained, saying he was being investigated “on the suspicion of conducting activities damaging to national security.”

He was showing no health problems, Ma said, following concern by his wife about high blood pressure and the possible absence of the necessary medicine.

However, the spokesman refused to answer questions from Taiwanese reporters as to Lee’s whereabouts, and he did not provide any details about what the former DPP worker had supposedly been doing.

Ma said that Taiwanese visitors to China had nothing to fear as long as they showed “normal” behavior as the country followed the rule of law.

Lee’s wife handed blood-pressure drugs and NT$30,000 to the Straits Exchange Foundation Tuesday in the hope it could pass the items on to her husband.

Lee is employed by the Wenshan Community College in Taipei City, but has a history of concern for Chinese human rights issues. The college urged China to allow Lee’s relatives to visit him.