In a move against individuals from Taiwan who are living in the Chinese mainland, China said that a Taiwan-based publisher is being investigated for allegedly “endangering national security”
Li Yanhe, who goes by the pen name Fucha, has published books which speak critically about Beijing.
The confirmation of Li’s detention was made by Beijing days after speculations were made about his whereabouts.
The “arbitrary arrests” of Taiwanese residents in China have been criticised by Taiwan as a breach of human rights.
The arrest of the publisher was confirmed a day after China stated that it would prosecute a pro-Taiwanese independence party’s founder for alleged secession.
The book publisher, Li, was born in China and had shifted to Taiwan in 2009. In Taiwan, he had established Gusa Press through which books, that were critical of the Chinese administration, were published.
According to Li’s friends, the publisher had arrived in China in April to visit his relatives and participate in Qing Ming, which is the annual Chinese tomb-sweeping festival.
A week ago, reports suggesting that Li had gone missing surfaced. Zhu Fenglian, who worked at China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said that they will respect the rights of Li during the investigation.
Multiple activists, scholars and writers had called for his release. On Monday, the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents Club had appealed to China to “respect the freedom of the press that it enshrines in its constitution, and to release all unjustly imprisoned media workers”.
The case of Li has been widely compared with the five Hong Kong booksellers’ disappearance in 2015 from a shop which is famous for selling works critical of China.
The booksellers eventually were taken into custody by mainland Chinese authorities while an investigation was carried out into their publishing business.