China denies requests by Lee Ming-che’s family to visit him

In this image taken from video released on Nov. 28, 2017, by the Intermediate People's Court of Yueyang, Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che, left, and his fellow defendant Peng Yuhua of China stand during a court session at the Intermediate People's Court of Yueyang in Yueyang in central China's Hunan Province, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. China sentenced Lee to five years and Peng to seven years in prison Tuesday for holding online political lectures and helping the families of jailed dissidents in a conviction demonstrating how Beijing's harshest crackdown on human rights in decades has extended beyond the Chinese mainland. (Intermediate People's Court of Yueyang via AP Video)

Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) China has rejects several requests by the family of Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲) to visit him in prison and has not given any reasons for doing so, which is not in keeping with due process of law, Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said Wednesday.

Since October, Chinese authorities have turned down four requests for Lee’s relatives to visit him, with the most recent rejection issued last week, according to SEF spokesperson Kuan An-lu (管安露).

Kuan’s comments came in the wake of a statement earlier in the day by Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光), spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, who said there were no problems concerning visits to Lee in Chishan Prison in Hunan.

At a news conference in Beijing, Ma said Lee’s wife had visited him in prison and that authorities will continue make arrangements for Lee’s family to visit him at an “appropriate time” in the future.

According to Kuan, however, Chinese authorities in mid-October denied a request by Lee’s wife to visit him, saying that he had been transferred to Yancheng Prison in Hebei Province.

The SEF then filed an application with Yancheng Prison authorities on behalf of Lee’s family but was told he had been moved back to Chishan Prison, Kuan said.

Kuan said the SEF filed an application again with Chishan Prison earlier this month but it was rejected on grounds that the prison’s security equipment was being upgraded.

She said the SEF has been helping Lee’s family to file applications to visit him, in accordance with China’s law, but Beijing authorities have denied four consecutive requests since October for no reason, which is counter to due process of law.

In a show of goodwill and in the interest of human rights, the authorities in China should allow Lee’s family to see him as soon as possible, Kuan said.

Lee, a Taiwanese democracy advocate, was detained in China in March 2017 when he entered Guangdong Province from Macau.

He was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of “subversion of state power” in November 2017, with Chinese authorities citing comments he allegedly made and information he circulated on social media about democracy, freedom of expression and human rights in China.

Lee had been serving his sentence at Chishan Prison since Dec. 28, 2017, but a Taiwanese business association in Hunan said on Oct. 19 it had been notified by the Chinese government that Lee had been transferred to Yancheng Prison.