Wife of jailed Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che again barred from boarding flight to see husband on mainland

Li Ching-yu attempts cross-strait trip after being told her husband was transferred to a prison in Hunan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 3:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 9:59pm

The wife of Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che, sentenced to five years in prison by mainland China authorities for subverting state power, was stopped from flying from Taiwan to mainland China on Tuesday to visit him in prison, rights groups said.

Lee, a community college lecturer and an activist at a human rights non-governmental organisation in Taiwan, had gone missing while on a trip to the mainland in March. Mainland authorities later charged him with subverting state power.

His wife, Li Ching-yu, refused to recognise the court’s authority during the first hearing.

She bought a plane ticket on Xiamen Airlines on Tuesday, with plans to see her husband in prison, according to a statement by several human rights group who are helping her.

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However, because she had travel documents that were deemed invalid to enter mainland China, she was not permitted to board the plane in Taipei, the statement said.

Taiwanese need special travel documents issued by Beijing, akin to a passport, to travel to the mainland. The documents can be invalidated unilaterally by Beijing.

The rights groups’ statement said Li had received a notice from the mainland government on Monday notifying her that her husband was transferred to a Hunan province prison on December 28. It said family members were entitled to visit once a month.

Asked about the incident, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Wednesday that Hunan had not received detailed information required for a visit from Lee’s family.

“As per the rules, the jail will handle applications for a visit in accordance with law after they are processed,” Ma said without elaborating.

Wife of detained Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che to attend his trial in mainland China

Li was also denied entry into the mainland in April despite having valid credentials, the associations said. She was told at the time by the airlines that her travel credentials were cancelled.

“From past years until now, the mainland government’s refusal today to let family members visit relatives in prison in China demonstrates that they do not empathise to any degree, from the point of view of humanity,” the rights associations said.

The Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official body that oversees relations between Taiwan and the mainland, echoed the statement, calling on mainland authorities to approve credentials for Li to travel to China and arrange a prison visit.

Li could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.