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Arrest of Lee Ming-cheh

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 675
  • Category: Gratitude

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Lee Ming-cheh is a Taiwanese citizen and was a staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, Taiwan before he was identified by the PRC as a pro-democracy activist which subsequently led to his arrest on March 19, 2017, when he was entering the Guangdong province in China via Macau. It was only ten days later that Chinese officials confirmed that he was being held on the suspicion of “endangering national security” of China. Before he was presented in front of a court, he was held incommunicado for 68 days where he did not have the opportunity to contact his wife or consult his lawyers.

He was subsequently tried and sentenced to a five-year jail sentence at Chishan prison in Hunan province after being pronounced guilty of “inciting others to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system”, along with his co-defendant Peng Yuhua who is a citizen of the People’s Republic of China. The South China Morning Post reported that the court-appointed lawyers did not conduct any investigation to obtain evidence or present any defense witnesses during this unlawful hearing.

The East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International has called him a victim of a politically motivated prosecution and has declared the evidence against him as not credible. Ming-cheh has been a victim of the Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location or RSDL law, which in his case has been not at a residence.

It is also important to note that the trial only held one hearing which was on Sept. 11 where he pleaded guilty on the charge and voiced remorse and gratitude to the Chinese regime and what many, including his wife Li Ching-yu, described as a ‘forced confession.” Reports suggest that during his time at Chishan prison, he has been denied correspondence rights with his wife, Li Ching-yu and his wife had gone on record to say that her husband could not write her letters, apparently, as she was told, because he was too busy working, and that he only received two of the 11 books she had sent to him. She has also faced severe external pressure and when on 10 April 2017 when she booked a flight and flew from Taiwan to China, she was not allowed to enter into China as she had been banned from entering China by the Ministry of Public Security of the country. It is important to note that the granting of visitation rights to relatives is a guaranteed basic human right when he has been denied in this case. A recent development in the case has been regarding Ming-cheh’s abrupt transfer to Yancheng prison in Hebei province in China.

This is one of the two prisons in China that are run directly by the central government. In a reaction to this, Taiwan’s Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng has raised questions and directly sought China’s explanation regarding this transfer but has not been given an answer. The arbitrary arrest of Ming-cheh should be viewed not only as a warning for Taiwanese citizens engaged in human-rights work or other issues deemed sensitive to Beijing, but for any foreigner including many American citizens working for non-profits and NGOs in China.

Additionally, as the charge against Lee mentions his activities on Facebook, although the social media platform isn’t legally accessible in China. This points to the issues of China’s intense digital surveillance as there seem to be unprecedented danger on sharing information about the situation in China on social media. Finally, this issue also highlights China’s attitude towards international laws and agreements.

In the case of Ming-cheh, China has failed to hold up its commitment to an important agreement between the two countries called the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement. This is a big threat to any foreign government including the United States as it is evident that China is not afraid to disregard its mutual agreements as per its wishes. Finally, the close involvement of the Taiwanese government in his case would allow you to get further support as there are already established channels to advocate on Lee Ming-cheh’s behalf.

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