Taiwan Church News
May 15 – 21, 2023
Report by Chiu Kuo-rong
Translated by Peter Wolfe
In March 2023, Mr Li Yan-he, whose pen name is “Fucha” and the founder of the Gusa Press, went to visit family in China and was never heard of ever since. Later, it was confirmed that he had been arrested by the Chinese government. People in Taiwan expressed strong protests against this weird arrest of China, and started to rally for Fucha.
After several human rights NGOs jointly issued a statement, “Solidarity Working Group for Fucha” released a batch of joint signatures from the fields of publishing, academia, cultural and media on May 12, with more than 350 Taiwan intelligentsia.
At the press conference, two public demands were raised against the China government: First, the Beijing authorities should respect Fu Cha’s legal rights under the Chinese law, including contacting his family and lawyers, and publicizing the results of the investigation as soon as possible; Second, the Beijing authorities should handle the Fucha case carefully, to avoid causing a chilling effect in Taiwan’s publishing industry or hurting normal cultural exchanges across Taiwan straits.
Hosted by Mr Chang Zheng, director of Brilliant Times Bookstore – Southeast Asia Theme, the press conference invited senior publisher Ms Li Chin-lian, Mr Wang Chia-suan, former employee of Gusa Press, and several publishing press representatives to attend and deliver speeches. Mr Chang Zheng emphasized that, before the news of Fucha’s arrest was revealed, Fucha’s family members deserved to keep a low profile, but now since the news had been broke out and everyone can no longer choose to turn a blind eye and keep silent.
Mr Wang Jia-suan said that when Fu Cha first disappeared, all parties kept a low profile and kept close contact with his family members. However, as both Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of China confirmed the arrest, low profile is no longer necessary.
He pointed out that after many discussions, the working group believed that Taiwan’s civil society needs to have a voice, because the books and ideas introduced by Fucha have had a significant impact on Taiwan’s cultural circles. He warned that on the surface, Fu Cha’s arrest would not affect other publishing houses, but if it causes a chilling effect, the result may be that the publishing categories, magazines and books of Gusa Press will disappear in future.
Ms Li Chin-lian said that Taiwan’s publishing market has a high degree of freedom, and many works that are banned in China can be freely purchased in Taiwan, such as Eileen Chang’s “The Rice Sprout Song” and Ha Jin’s “Under the Red Flag”. She recalled that after “The Private Life of Chairman Mao: The Memoirs of Mao’s Personal Physician” was published in Taiwan in the 1990s, many Chinese even bought it while traveling in Taiwan. And this event clearly demonstrated the huge difference in publishing and reading cultures across Taiwan Strait, she said.
Ms Li Chin-lian praised Fucha for his brave decision to arrive at Taiwan more than ten years ago, when cross-strait exchanges were still strong, and contribute his expertise to Taiwan’s publishing industry. Now, however, this respected colleague in the publishing industry is being detained and investigated by China.
She pointed out that Taiwan has become the only country in the Chinese-speaking world that enjoys full freedom of speech, creativity, and publication. This is also the most important meaning of supporting Fucha. She called on the Chinese government to release Fucha and let him return home as soon as possible.
Regarding the Fucha arrest, some people in Taiwan social platforms accused Fucha being a Chinese spy, and the reason why he was arrested was due to his failure in mission and etc. On the other hand, on WeChat and other Chinese social platforms, there were also articles saying that Fucha was a Taiwanese spy working for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In this regard, Chang Zheng said that after the working group’s discussion, a consensus was reached that accusing people of being spies must have credible evidence: it means, whether in Taiwan or China, if you want to convict any suspect, you need to have legal evidence instead of accusing or smearing others at will. Therefore, any accusation without evidence is deemed highly irresponsible by the working group.
On the event of Fucha, Rev Lin Wei-lian, secretary of the PCT’s Church and Social Committee, received an interview in the afternoon on April 30th, calling on Taiwanese to pay extra attention to their own safety in China or any other countries that have signed the extradition treaties with China.
Reminding Fu Cha ‘s arrest after his entering China is not an isolated case, Rev Lin reiterated the story of Mr Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese NGO worker, who was also framed by the Chinese government and became the first Taiwanese to be imprisoned for the crime of subverting the State of China.
Mr Lee was imprisoned in China for five years. When Lee Ming-che was in prison, human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, continued to support him. With numerous rescue efforts, Mr Lee luckily returned to Taiwan after serving his sentence last year.
Rev Lin stressed that Taiwan is a sensitive issue for China. China has always claimed Taiwan as part of its territory and subjected to the co-called “One-China Principle”. China is an authoritarian dictatorship that does not allow citizens to express political opinions, proceed free elections, and champion democratic votings. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of belief, and other basic human rights are also highly restricted. This weird arrest of a boss of the press has attracted the attention of the world, and the Taiwanese should pay more attention to it.