China holding Taiwanese man said to have photographed police

FILE - In this June 20, 2019, file photo released by Pingtung County Fangliao Township Office, Lee Meng-chu accepts a certificate for his adviser role

FILE - In this June 20, 2019, file photo released by Pingtung County Fangliao Township Office, Lee Meng-chu accepts a certificate for his adviser role

BEIJING (AP) — China confirmed Wednesday it was detaining a Taiwanese man who reportedly sent back photos of Chinese paramilitary police massing equipment near the Hong Kong border last month.

Lee Meng-chu is under investigation on suspicion of engaging in criminal activity harmful to national security, said Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office. He did not provide further details.

Lee went missing on Aug. 20 after he sent photos of paramilitary police to the mayor of Fangliao, a small fishing community in southern Taiwan. The mayor, Archer Chen, said he tried to call Lee later in the day but couldn't get through.

Lee often traveled to China and was a volunteer consultant for the township to help promote its international affairs, Chen said.

Taiwan's official Central News Agency has reported Lee apparently sent photos to his brother, too.

The paramilitary police drills in Shenzhen fueled speculation that China might use its People's Armed Police to crush pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous territory. Shenzhen lies just over Hong Kong's border with mainland China.