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Government vows to help free Taiwanese detained in China

2017/08/30 17:07:34

Taipei, Aug. 30 (CNA) The government will actively provide assistance to help free people who have been detained in China for unknown reasons as long as the families of the victims agree, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top agency for dealing with China, said Wednesday.

The MAC was responding to a United Daily News report that Deng Zhi-hong (鄧智鴻), a Taiwanese businessman operating in China, has been detained since being arrested at Xiamen Airport late last year.

Chinese authorities have not provided any information about Deng's case and have not granted visitation rights to his family, according to the report.

Deng's family has hired a Chinese lawyer to help Deng and is seeking assistance from Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its Chinese counterpart -- the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) -- to free him, according to the report.

The SEF and ARATS are semi-official bodies set up by Taiwan and China to handle issues related to civilian exchanges in the absence of official ties.

The MAC responded in a statement that the government will provide assistance to any Taiwanese nationals who have encountered an emergency while traveling in China or to those whose personal freedoms have been restricted.

The government will cope with such cases differently based on their families' willingness to have Taiwanese authorities get involved and China's judicial proceedings, the MAC said.

The MAC did not comment, however, on Deng's individual case nor did it offer any insight on the kind of assistance it could provide in cases where Taiwanese nationals have been detained.

Deng's detention follows the case of Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who has been detained by China since March 19 for allegedly "subverting state power."

Lee's ordeal has drawn the attention of domestic and international media, but he remains detained by Beijing.

According to the minutes of an MAC consultative meeting released Tuesday, some experts said Lee's case will not be the last of its kind, and the government needs to come up with appropriate responses.

Deng, a former worker at the Chinese National Federation of Industries -- a Taiwanese business association -- was heading an association that provides services to Chinese businesses interested in investing or sourcing in Taiwan at the time of his arrest, according to the newspaper report.

According to SEF statistics, between last year and July this year, the SEF has learned of 57 cases of Chinese authorities limiting the freedoms of Taiwanese nationals. In 2015, when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was still in power, 51 such cases were reported, the SEF said.

(By Miao Zhong-han and Evelyn Kao)