A second detained Taiwanese man has appeared on Chinese state television supposedly confessing to espionage activities, after Taipei warned Beijing to stop entrapping its citizens and fabricating crimes against them.
Cheng Yu-chin, who previously taught at Charles University in the Czech Republic, was shown on state broadcaster CCTV on Monday evening addressing accusations that he had engaged in Taiwanese independence activities and spied for Taiwanese intelligence agencies.
In the programme, Cheng was said to have been an aide to former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Cho Jung-tai and was accused of using a research institute he established in Prague as a cover to gain intelligence on China and of working to hurt Chinese diplomatic relations in Europe. Cho on his official Facebook account denied that Cheng was ever his assistant.
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Taiwan’s relations with the Czech Republic have been in the spotlight after Czech senate speaker Milos Vystrcil travelled to the island in late August, the most senior politician from the central European country to do so in 16 years. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi threatened that Vystrcil would “pay a heavy price” for his actions, and Beijing later issued a travel warning for the Czech Republic amid the tensions.
The allegations against Cheng came after CCTV programme Focus Talk on Sunday aired a special report on Lee Meng-chu, who was shown in prisonwear apologising for endangering Chinese national security with activities relating to Taiwanese independence and support for protests in Hong Kong. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council slammed the show as “malicious political sensationalism”, and accused the Chinese Communist Party of violating individual legal rights by forcing Lee to confess to crimes on its official broadcaster.
Amid heightened cross-strait relations, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday called for “meaningful dialogue” with mainland China during celebrations to mark the founding of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name for itself. But Beijing condemned the remarks as advocacy for Taiwanese independence and the People’s Liberation Army instead conducted a mock invasion drill off the coasts of Fujian and Guangdong provinces.
Beijing has long objected to any indications that Taiwan is independent, and has vowed to bring the self-ruled island under communist rule, by force if necessary. Chinese state media has reported in recent days a “Thunder 2020” operation that has uncovered hundreds of alleged Taiwanese spy cases.
Cho in his Facebook post wrote that Beijing had not only rejected the Tsai administration’s extension of goodwill but had deliberately sought to provoke with the Taiwanese spying allegations.
“I demand that the Chinese Communist Party regime respect basic human rights, stop infringing upon personal freedoms and making up imaginary crimes,” he wrote. “I hope China will use its fragile rule of law system and not wrong anyone when carrying out justice, and to work jointly to maintain cross-strait peace and stability.”
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