Lee disappeared in late March 2017 when he attempted to enter China via Zhuhai, Guangdong, from Macau. Chinese regime later confirmed that Lee has been detained and charged with “subversion”. According to reports, Lee has sent books to friends in China interested in human rights, and has engaged in activities in support of Chinese human rights advocates. Prior to his advocacy work, Lee also worked for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party for a number of years.
Lee is notable for being the first ever Taiwanese citizen to be recorded as a political prisoner in China by the political prisoner database maintained by U.S. Congressional Executive Commission On China (CECC). Lee’s case has also been widely reported by media in and outside of Taiwan, while Lee’s supporters and human rights groups around the world have been calling for Chinese regime to release him immediately.
Since March Taiwanese government had adopted a mostly low-key approach to the case, despite pledge from the officials that President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration would do everything in its capacity to help Lee. There were reports that some of President Tsai’s close advisors wish to avoid confrontation with the Chinese regime over Lee’s case, as they see maintaining stability of the cross-strait relations as more important than other concerns.
Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese rights activist who has been imprisoned by China since March 2017, is the first ever Taiwanese citizen to be recorded as a political prisoner by the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission On China (CECC) database. (Screenshot from CECC database)
This was in sharp contrast to Lee’s wife Lee Ching-yu, who has launched a relentless and high profile public campaign to seek her husband’s release. To increase public awareness of her husband’s case, she had traveled to the United States in May and testified at a House Foreign Affair Committee hearing at the U.S. Congress. Her Congressional testimony and meetings with various human rights NGOs and also Trump administration officials have been widely reported by Taiwanese and international media.