HomeOppression and Human RightsTaiwanese Publisher Disappears: Beijing Cracks Down on Free Expression OUTSIDE its borders

Taiwanese Publisher Disappears: Beijing Cracks Down on Free Expression OUTSIDE its borders

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Li Yanhe, who is the editor in chief of Taiwan based Gusa Publishing, disappeared from view after arriving in Shanghai to visit family in March. China has confirmed that Mr. Li is under investigation for suspected national security violations. According to Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman, Zhu Fenglian, Mr. Li is suspected of “engaging in activities endangering national security.” She assured that Mr. Li’s legitimate rights and interests would be protected, but did not offer further details.

Li Yanhe, who goes by the pen name Fucha, is a Chinese national who has been living in Taiwan since 2009 when he established Gusa Publishing, which has produced Chinese-language books critical of Beijing. For example, in February, the publisher released a book about Xinjiang, where Western human-rights activists and politicians allege authorities use Muslim Uyghurs as forced labor.

Gusa Publishing released a statement on its Facebook page stating that it was not releasing information about Mr. Li’s disappearance out of respect for his family’s wishes. Mr. Li and his family could not be reached for comment. The Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council confirmed on Wednesday that it would maintain close contact with Mr. Li’s family and vowed to use all channels to provide the most appropriate care and assistance.

PEN America, the New York-based arm of the literary and free-speech organization, called for Mr. Li’s immediate release, stating that “His detention is an attack on free expression and another example of the Chinese government’s belligerence towards anyone who stands for the free and open exchange of ideas.”

China claims Taiwan as its sovereign territory and has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the island. Mr. Li’s detention comes as tensions between Taipei and Beijing have become heated in the wake of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the U.S. earlier this month and ahead of presidential elections in Taiwan next year that could reset the island’s relations with China.

Confirmation of Mr. Li’s national-security investigation came a day after China said it would prosecute the leader of a minor political party that advocated formal Taiwanese independence. Yang Chih-yuan, who was detained in August, was formally arrested and charged with secession by prosecutors in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou, according to China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate. Taiwan has repeatedly called for Mr. Yang’s release.

In addition to Mr. Li’s detention, the family of veteran Chinese journalist Dong Yuyu said that he was detained on espionage charges during a meeting with a Japanese diplomat in a Beijing restaurant. Mr. Dong, the deputy head of the editorial department at Guangming Daily, often wrote liberal-leaning articles and regularly met foreign journalists and diplomats to help him understand global trends. His family stated that Chinese authorities regarded such contacts as evidence of spying, which can carry a jail term of more than 10 years.

More than 60 people, including prominent foreign journalists and academics, signed a petition urging the Chinese government to reconsider the charges against Dong, saying meetings with foreign diplomats and journalists should not be regarded as evidence of espionage.

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