Highlighting prisoners of conscience in China Smith Invites Wife of Imprisoned Taiwanese Human Rights Advocate to State of the Union
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Global Human Rights and past Chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), today announced that he has invited Li Ching-yu, wife of jailed democracy and human rights advocate Lee Ming-cheh, as his guest to the State of the Union Address, and she has accepted and will be in the House Gallery tonight.
“Li Ching-yu’s very presence helps highlight the unjust imprisonment of Lee Ming-cheh and the over 1,300 prisoners of conscience in China, many who are tortured and jailed for little more than peacefully supporting human rights and the rule of law,” Smith stated. Every Member of Congress receives only one ticket to the event, and Li Ching-yu is Rep. Smith’s exclusive guest.
“Because there is a link between Beijing’s domestic repression and its foreign aggression, human rights advocacy in China is first and foremost a humanitarian concern, as well as a critical security concern and tied directly to U.S. national interests in the region,” Smith said. “Like so many others in China, Lee Ming-cheh’s continued arbitrary detention and the forced labor he has endured while detained are unacceptable and violate China’s many commitments under international human rights law. He should be released immediately and allowed to be reunited with his wife.”
Lee Ming-cheh, a Taiwan community college worker and NGO volunteer, was a prominent supporter of democracy in Taiwan and of human rights in China. He discussed justice and human rights with Chinese friends through the messaging app WeChat and sent his friends books on democracy. He was arrested for “engaging in activities that endangered national security” in March 2017, while visiting Mainland China.
Lee was charged with “subversion of state power” and sentenced to five years in prison on November 28, 2017. More information on Lee’s case can be found on the CECC’s Political Prisoner Database.
Smith chaired a hearing of the global human rights subcommittee at which Li Ching-Yu testified on May 18, 2017, entitled “Disappeared, Jailed and Tortured in China: Wives Petition for Their Husbands’ Freedom.” She testified with the wives of currently imprisoned human rights lawyers Jiang Tianyong, Tang Jingling, and Wang Quanzhang (via videotaped testimony).
“In addition to prisoners of conscience, we must continue to object to the Chinese Communist Party’s relentless efforts to ostracize, intimidate, and isolate democratic Taiwan,” Smith said. “Taiwan is a model of democratic stability and rights protections and has recently faced an egregious escalation in military incursions, cyber attacks, diplomatic sleights, and election interference from Mainland China. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S.-Taiwan Relations Act, and the U.S. must reaffirm its commitment to the Act and the Six Assurances as the foundation of U.S.-Taiwan relations and peace and prosperity in the region.”
Smith has held over 60 hearings on China and recently introduced the bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act with Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) to focus U.S. efforts on addressing the mass internment of over a million ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in “political re-education camps” in China. Smith recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, “The World Must Stand Against China’s War on Religion.”