China: Taiwan NGO worker detained on vague national security charges
The Chinese authorities’ detention of a Taiwanese NGO worker on vague national security grounds raises fears the authorities are broadening their attack against those carrying out legitimate activism, Amnesty International said today, as it urged the authorities to provide further details for his detention.
Lee Ming-cheh’s detention on vague national security grounds will alarm all those that work with NGOs in China.
On Wednesday, Chinese officials confirmed that Lee Ming-cheh was being held on suspicion of “endangering national security”. He went missing after he crossed the Gongbei border from Macao to Zhuhai, China. He was last heard from on 19 March.
“Lee Ming-cheh’s detention on vague national security grounds will alarm all those that work with NGOs in China. If his detention is solely connected to his legitimate activism he must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.
“The unchecked powers the authorities now have to target NGOs and their partners are frightening.”
Lee, who is a manager at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, has been supporting civil society organizations and activists in China for many years, although this time he travelled to China to arrange medical treatment for his mother-in-law.
A broad spectrum of charges fall under “endangering national security” and carry a range of punishments from three years up to life imprisonment, depending on the specific charge.
In January, a new law targeting Foreign NGOs and their domestic partners came into force. The law gives the authorities – particularly the police - virtually unchecked powers to target NGOs, restrict their activities, and ultimately stifle civil society.