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Government agencies back 5 Taiwanese threatened by China

05/16/2024 04:07 PM
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Political commentators Lee Zheng-hao (left), Wang I-chuan (center), and Yu Pei-chen. CNA file photo
Political commentators Lee Zheng-hao (left), Wang I-chuan (center), and Yu Pei-chen. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) Taiwan government agencies on Wednesday pledged to support and protect five Taiwanese political commentators who have been accused by China of spreading false information.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the government agency in charge of cross-strait affairs, said that freedom of speech is a universal value protected under Taiwan's Constitution.

Beijing should confidently face and understand Taiwan's free, democratic and diverse society and should respectfully and pragmatically seek cross-strait interactions that would build positive relations, the MAC said in a text statement to the Taiwan media.

The statement was issued the day that China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) threatened to "punish" five Taiwanese political commentators "by law," accusing them of spreading falsehoods and negative information in the media about China, intentionally deceiving the Taiwanese people, and creating rifts between the people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The TAO named the five individuals as Wang I-chuan (王義川), head of the Democratic Progressive Party Central Executive Committee; Yu Pei-chen (于北辰), a Taoyuan City councilor and ex-Army officer; New Taipei City councilor candidate Lee Zheng-hao (李正皓); television show host Liu Bao-jie (劉寶傑); and political commentator Edward Huang (黃世聰).

According to the MAC, the threats against the five individuals, who expressed views in opposition to China's, was a reflection of Beijing's lack of confidence in its own systems and governance.

The Presidential Office expressed similar sentiments about Taiwan's status as a democratic country and said that the "aggressive and arrogant actions" of the TAO would only spark distrust among the Taiwanese people and stain China's global image.

The Taiwan government will stand by the five individuals and will protect them and their families, Presidential Office spokesperson Olivia Lin (林聿禪) said in a post on the office's Facebook page.

She encouraged the Taiwan media to stand firm in the face of China's intrusion on its freedoms.

Interior Minister Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) also commented on the issue, saying in a Facebook post that he had instructed the National Police Agency to pay close attention to the safety of the five individuals and their families.

Meanwhile, Wang said in a social media post that the TAO should reflect on its divisive labeling, its disruption of cross-strait relations, and its attempts to disrupt free speech among the Taiwanese people.

Yu told CNA he was pleased to be on the right track, loving Taiwan and opposing the Chinese Communist Party, and that the "enemy's" affirmation of his stance was an honor.

Beijing has previously imposed sanctions on Taiwanese deemed as independence advocates, banning them and their families from entering China, Hong Kong or Macau, and prohibiting Chinese organizations and people from engaging with them.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Wu Kuan-hsien)

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