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No answer from China on Taiwanese political prisoner's fate: SEF

2018/10/26 20:28:47

Kuan An-lu (管安露/CNA file photo)

Taipei, Oct. 26 (CNA) The fate of a Taiwanese human rights advocate jailed in China remains unknown after he was transferred to another prison, despite Taiwan's request for an explanation of the move that prevented a planned visit by the jailed man's family.

China has yet to respond to Taiwan's questions as to why and when Lee Ming-che (李明哲) was transferred from Chishan Prison in Hunan Province to Yancheng Prison in Hebei Province -- the only prison administered by its Ministry of Justice, a Taiwanese official said Friday.

"But we now know that the Taiwan Affairs Office of Beijing Municipality can help arrange and coordinate a visit if the family of Lee hopes to visit him in China," Kuan An-lu (管安露), a spokesperson of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), told CNA.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) asked China on Thursday to provide an explanation of why Lee was transferred to another prison at a time when Lee's family was about to visit him on Oct. 22.

According to the MAC, the planned visit had been approved by the Chinese authorities. It would have been the sixth time the family has visited Lee this year.

MAC deputy chief Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said the council was informed of the change of prison by a Taiwanese businessmen's association in Hunan, which said it was notified of the issue by Chinese authorities on Oct. 19.

Lee's family members were unaware of his transfer, he said.

Lee was detained in March 2017 in China and had been serving a five-year jail term in the Hunan prison since December after being convicted of "subversion of state power" a month earlier.

The semi-official SEF is responsible for handling contacts with China in the absence of official ties while the MAC is Taiwan's top coordinator of China policy that also tries to deal with Beijing directly on an official basis.

(By Miao Zong-han and Flor Wang)