By Nectar Gan and Wayne Chang, CNN
A Taiwan-based book publisher has been placed under investigation in China on suspicion of “endangering state security,” Beijing said Tuesday amidst growing concern about his disappearance.
Li Yanhe, better known by his pseudonym Fu Cha, was reportedly detained by police in Shanghai in March shortly after he arrived to visit family and discuss residence-related matters, according to the Central News Agency (CNA). ) from Taiwan.
Weeks after his alleged detention, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office confirmed on Wednesday that Li is under investigation by state security authorities for his “suspicion of involvement in activities that endangered state security.” .
Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China has intensified its efforts to suppress dissent, both inside and outside its borders.
Li’s detention comes at a tense time in cross-strait relations, and several Taiwanese have been detained in China on state security grounds in recent years.
China’s ruling Communist Party claims Taiwan as its own territory, even though it has never controlled it, and has refused to rule out using force to “unify” the island with mainland China.
On Tuesday, the Chinese authorities announced the formal arrest of Yang Chih-yuan, a Taiwanese independence political activist, on suspicion of “secession”, more than eight months after he was detained in the eastern province of Zhejiang, prompting Taiwanese authorities to urge citizens to assess the risks before traveling to mainland China.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chiu Tai-san said on Wednesday that Yang’s arrest and Li’s detention demonstrated that “China is exercising its long-arm jurisdiction over Taiwan not only to threaten but also to suppress to Taiwan”.
Born in north China’s Liaoning province in 1971, Li moved to Shanghai when he was 20 to study literature and later worked in the publishing industry.
He moved to Taiwan in 2009 after marrying a Taiwanese woman. In Taiwan’s capital Taipei, he founded Gusa Publishing, which published books that criticized the Chinese Communist Party or touched on China’s political taboos, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, according to CNA.
Wang Dan, a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, said Li’s Gusa Publishing had published a collection of his essays.
According to Wang, Li had obtained Taiwanese citizenship and returned to Shanghai in March seeking to renounce his Chinese citizenship as required by Taiwan’s immigration law.
CNN contacted the Taiwan Mainland Affairs Office to inquire about Li’s citizenship status.
Last week, an official with Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said Li was “safe” but declined to provide further details, citing his family’s wishes.
Gusa Publishing said in a statement Monday on Facebook that it will stop commenting on the case out of respect for Li’s family, but thanked the public for their support of Li. He declined to comment when contacted by CNN on Wednesday.
not an extremist
Wang Chia-hsuan, a former Gusa editor who worked with Li for eight years, said he and other friends of Li’s had always worried about his personal safety whenever he returned to China.
Wang Chia-hsuan said Li was dedicated to his work and longed for a different approach to understanding Chinese history.
“He is not an extremist. All the work he published is academic in nature and is already in the public domain,” Wang said.
A group of 40 authors who have been published by Gusa and other supporters, including Wang Dan and Wang Chia-hsuan, issued a joint statement calling for Li’s release.
“In Taiwan, freedom of expression and publication, and academic freedom are like the air we breathe. They are part of the daily life of every reader, every author, every translator and every publisher,” the statement said.
“Under Fu Cha’s leadership as editor-in-chief, Gusa’s books have been highly diverse and deeply popular with Chinese-language readers around the world. We believe that Fu Cha has not committed any crime by enjoying freedom of speech and publication,” he said.
Li’s detention has drawn comparisons to the case of five hong kong booksellers.
The five, connected to a bookstore that sold critical and sometimes gossipy titles about China’s elite, disappeared in late 2015 and eventually turned up in police custody in China.
One of them, Lam Wing-kee, has said that he was kidnaped by Chinese “special forces” after crossing the border into mainland China from Hong Kong. He jumped bail in 2016 and fled Hong Kong for Taipei, where he reopened his bookstore.
Another, Gui Minhai, who disappeared while on vacation in Thailand, was sentenced in 2020 to 10 years in prison for illegally providing intelligence abroad.
Hong Kong used to be a publishing hub for politically sensitive books that would be banned in mainland China.
But as Beijing tightens its grip on the city, especially after the enactment of a far-reaching national security law, that role has been taken over by Taiwan, a vibrant self-governing democracy.
The CNN Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.