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Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che thanks U.S. for support throughout ordeal

Lee responds to U.S. State Department’s celebration of his release and homecoming

File photo of a protestor holding up a banner reading, "Freedom of speech, Lee Ming-che is innocent." 

File photo of a protestor holding up a banner reading, "Freedom of speech, Lee Ming-che is innocent."  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a response to U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price’s tweet celebrating human rights activist Lee Ming-che’s (李明哲) release and homecoming, Lee and his wife Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜) issued a statement in thanks.

“We have received the U.S. Department of State’s congratulations on Ming-che’s safe return to Taiwan. Thank you,” wrote the Lees. “The message reminded (us) of the U.S. government and Congress’ persisting concern and aid in the five years of Ming-che’s deep suffering for his human rights work.”

The couple wrote that during Lee Ching-yu’s contacts with the U.S. officials, they would often cite Section 2(c) of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA): “The preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan are hereby reaffirmed as objectives of the United States.” According to them, it was thanks to the U.S.’ adherence to the clause that ensured Lee Ming-che was not “overly tortured” in prison and was returned home safely.

“Not letting the clause be just text is the most precious foundation for U.S.-Taiwan relations,” read the statement.

The Lees wrote that as the TRA refers to the human rights “of all the people on Taiwan,” the principles are not just applicable to Lee Ming-che but every Taiwanese. “The biggest threat to Taiwanese human rights today is of course the several decades of China’s anti-human rights behavior including endless threats, clamors, and (attempts at) unification by force.”

“As Ming-che thanks the U.S. government, he cannot help but think about and mention the fact that China has continuously infringed upon ‘the human rights of all the people on Taiwan' and claimed ‘to possess Taiwan’s sovereignty,’” they added.

In another statement published upon Lee Ming-che’s return to Taiwan on Friday (April 15), he wrote that despite the end of his family’s own torment, the human rights of an unknown number of people in China are still being encroached upon, and he hopes those people will be set free one day. “One must fight to obtain freedom. Just like how the Taiwanese under martial law exchanged blood and tears for freedom, democracy, and human rights,” he wrote.

“May the Chinese realize and learn. This is my wish for the Chinese.”

Lee added that he felt unfamiliar with the world and detached from the pandemic. However, regarding the mandatory quarantine in Taiwan, he said it felt completely different from being isolated in China: “I am now tightly embraced by love rather than being trapped by fear.”

Lee was arrested by Chinese authorities after arriving in China on March 19, 2017, and was later imprisoned on the charge of “subversion of state power.” Per the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, after human rights organizations submitted complaints on behalf of Lee’s family to the United Nations Human Rights Special Procedures, his case became the first from Taiwan to be accepted.