China says Taiwan publisher under national security investigation

The leader of a small Taiwanese political party is also charged with ‘secession’, while a Chinese journalist is charged with espionage.

Li Yanhe, a Taiwanese publisher who went missing while visiting Shanghai last month, is under investigation for suspected national security crimes, Beijing says.

Li, the editor-in-chief of Gusa Publishing, is under investigation “on suspicion of participating in activities that endanger national security,” Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, said at a press conference on Wednesday, promising his ” legitimate rights and interests” would be protected.

Gusa has published books on history and politics critical of China’s ruling Communist Party, including a history of alleged Chinese oppression in the western region of Xinjiang and a title on Beijing’s global propaganda efforts. In 2015, a number of Hong Kong booksellers known for publishing works critical of the Chinese government disappeared before reappearing on the mainland.

Beijing’s confirmation that Li is under investigation came a day after authorities formally filed a “secession” charge against Taiwanese activist Yang Chih-yuan, the leader of a small political party seeking independence for the self-governed island. supports.

China claims Taiwan as its own and does not rule out the use of force to take control of the island. It has increased the pressure since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016. Beijing accuses her of being a “separatist”, though Tsai insists it is up to the people of Taiwan to choose their own future.

Dong Yuyu was a 2017 fellow at Harvard University in the US [Dong family via AP]

Activists and Taiwan-based journalists raised the alarm about Li’s disappearance last week when dissident Chinese poet Bei Ling wrote in a Facebook post that Li was believed to have been “secretly” detained in Shanghai while visiting family last month. A group of writers and scholars issued a statement on Saturday calling for his release.

Separately, the family of veteran Chinese journalist Dong Yuyu said he was detained on espionage charges while meeting with a Japanese diplomat at a Beijing restaurant. Dong, the deputy editorial chief of Guangming Daily, often wrote liberal articles and regularly met with foreign journalists and diplomats to help him understand global trends.

His family said Chinese authorities regarded such contacts as evidence of espionage, which could carry a prison sentence 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 allegations against Dong, saying that meetings with foreign diplomats and journalists should not be taken as evidence of espionage.

“Who would want to come to China to meet Chinese journalists, academics or diplomats if these meetings could be used as evidence that the Chinese side is engaged in espionage?” they wrote in the petition.

In recent years, a number of journalists and writers have been accused of espionage in China, including Cheng Lei, an Australian news presenter who was working with China’s state broadcaster CGTN when she was detained in August 2020.

She faced a secret trial in March 2022 and has yet to hear the verdict.

A year into the process, Australia has expressed “deep concern” over the delays.