Taiwan tells China to stop political manipulation

10/12/2020 09:23 PM
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Mainland Affairs Council head Chen Ming-tong
Mainland Affairs Council head Chen Ming-tong

Taipei, Oct. 12 (CNA) Taiwan urged China on Monday to stop engaging in political manipulation to avoid hurting cross-Taiwan Strait relations at a time when bilateral ties have dipped to a new low.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) head Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) issued the call following a broadcast by Beijing-based CCTV on Sunday night, during which Taiwanese citizen Lee Meng-chu (李孟居) "apologized" for actions that he said seriously damaged China's national security.

According to the news program, Chinese intelligence authorities "broke hundreds of information leakage cases, arrested multiple Taiwanese spies and smashed spy networks established by Taiwanese intelligence agents" in a recent crackdown.

CCTV claimed the crackdown was a successful blow against Taiwan's intelligence efforts.

It accused Taiwan's government of aligning with anti-China foreign forces to advocate Taiwan independence and challenge China's bottom line, hindering peace across the strait.

In response to the program, the MAC issued a stern protest in a written statement, accusing China of employing illegal methods to force a Taiwanese citizen to repent and acknowledge his "mistakes."

"It is malignant political manipulation to falsely incriminate a Taiwanese national for conducting espionage activities for Taiwan on a Chinese media outlet," the statement said.

According to the MAC, such a politically motivated approach deliberately undermined cross-strait relations and interfered with the normal functioning of Taiwan's democracy and society based on the rule of law.

The MAC said it has contacted Lee's family and will provide necessary assistance as it monitors the situation.

In a news commentary show aired by CCTV after the news broadcast Sunday night, Lee, an advisor to the Fangliao Township government in Pingtung County, was depicted as a "businessman who had an axe to grind but actually was a board member of the Taiwan United Nations Alliance, which promotes Taiwan independence."

That show cited text messages between Lee and a friend identified as Chen Ya-lin (陳亞麟) via LINE to show they were planning to travel to Hong Kong to support the movement against a China extradition bill.

But Chen canceled the trip, and Lee went to Hong Kong on his own on Aug. 18, 2019, according to the show.

Lee was seen passing out leaflets at Victoria Park and voicing Taiwan's support for Hong Kong, while taking pictures with protesters wearing black T-shirts that he sent back to his LINE group in Taiwan, according to the show.

Lee then went to Shenzhen, where he was caught by armed police officers trying to take photos of them as they did training drills.

The 16 video clips and 48 photos he shot were considered "classified information," a Shenzhen national security agent said on the show.

He said the information collected by Lee could be used to analyze the number of troops and their equipment, and the intention and scale of their training.

"The recordings and photos he gathered posed a threat to national security," he claimed.

Lee was arrested in Shenzhen on Aug. 20 as he was preparing to leave, said the security agent, who warned that "Taiwan independence elements who intervene in Hong Kong affairs could be sentenced to between three years and life in line with its national security law."

Lee said he was "very sorry" for his actions and that they "were detrimental to the motherland or the country."

"Violence is not permitted and those engaged in violence must be brought to justice," Lee was shown as saying in the program in reference to Hong Kong.

(By Flor Wang, Chang Shu-lin and Lai Yen-yi)

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