Unification activist deported for ‘planning public speech’

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Visiting Chinese scholar Li Yi was deported from Taiwan on April 12 because he was scheduled to make a public speech, according to the NIA. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Visiting Chinese scholar Li Yi (李毅) was deported from Taiwan on April 12 because he was scheduled to make a public speech, which would have violated the terms of his entry permit, according to the National Immigration Agency (NIA).

Li was located at a hostel in Nantou in central Taiwan at 12:35 a.m. Friday and was deported on Flight CI-601 from Taoyuan International Airport to Hong Kong at 7:25 a.m., the NIA said.

Speaking about the matter, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told reporters later in the day that Li’s deportation was justified and his visit was not welcomed in Taiwan.

Entering Taiwan under the guise of sightseeing to advocate unifying Taiwan with China by means of force is “worse than terrorism,” Su said.

In a similar tone, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Li should not have planned to engage in activities of a political nature or advocated the destruction of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

There are certain limitations to freedom of speech, Hsu said, adding that statements advocating China’s unification with Taiwan by means of force are not welcome in Taiwan.

Li applied last August for a multiple entry permit to visit Taiwan for tourism purposes, and entered Taiwan on Tuesday, NIA head Chiu Feng-kuang (邱豐光) said in an interview at the airport Friday.

Li was asked to leave the country because of his intentions to engage in an activity inconsistent with the purpose of his entry permit, Chiu said.

Shortly before his departure Friday, Li posted a “departure message” on the Chinese social media site WeChat, saying that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will “eventually be unified.”

On arrival in Hong Kong shortly after, he said in a radio interview that freedom of speech in Taiwan allows him to discuss topics such as reunification, whether by peaceful means or by force.

Li, who has advocated the use of force to unify Taiwan with China, was invited by the Chinese Unity Promotion Party (CUPP) to speak at a forum titled “Cross-Strait Peaceful Unification and Development,” on April 13 in Taichung.

In the speech, he was expected to address China’s proposal to implement a “one country, two systems” framework in Taiwan, according to a CUPP post on Facebook on Thursday.

Given his intentions to engage in an activity of a political nature while in Taiwan on a tourist permit, and considering that his pro-unification speech may have jeopardized national security and social stability, Li would be asked to leave Taiwan, the NIA said Thursday, citing the “Regulations Governing the Approval of People of the Mainland Area Visiting Taiwan for Purposes of Tourism.”

Meanwhile, the Cabinet spokesperson said Premier Su Tseng-chang had instructed the NIA and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan’s top China policy-making body, to keep track of Li during his visit, citing national security concerns.

At a press briefing Thursday, MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said that any applications by Li to visit Taiwan in the future would be closely examined.

Li has been declared persona non grata and will be subject to certain restrictions upon entering Taiwan in the future, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

According to Huang Shou-ta (黃守達), a Democratic Progressive Party city councilor in Taichung, Li has said that once the Chinese People’s Liberation Army crosses the Taiwan Strait, Taiwanese can forget about the issue of independence.

By Chiu Chun-chin and Chung Yu-chen