Li Ming-che Incident

Release immediately upon completion of the five-year term; China, Free Li; Speech is free, Li Ming-che is innocent

Event description

Utilizing the practice of "forced disappearance" to control dissenting voices and actions has been a method employed by China and other authoritarian states to manipulate public opinion and suppress freedom of speech. The "Li Ming-che Incident" is a significant event in which China forcibly detained a Taiwanese citizen.

In March 2017, Li Ming-che, an NGO worker and a program manager of the Wenshan Community College, disappeared without a trace when entering China from Guangzhou. It wasn't until more than two months of illegal detention that the Chinese authorities confirmed Li Ming-che's arrest through the Taiwan Affairs Office.

During this period, Chinese public security agencies not only contacted Li Ming-che's wife, Li Ching-yu, through the "buying-off network" (intermediaries between the two sides) but also used the guise of offering "humanitarian assistance" to silence the family. Li Ching-yu refused to acknowledge the authenticity of a "handwritten letter" from Li Ming-che and insisted on personally traveling to Beijing for negotiations.

In November of the same year, the Chinese government forced Li Ming-che to publicly confess through televised trials, charging him with subverting state power and sentencing him to five years in prison. During his detention, Li Ming-che not only faced arbitrary and unannounced transfers but also endured torture, including being force-fed spoiled food, violating minimum standards of human rights. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government refused family visits citing epidemic prevention, denying him the right to communicate with his family.

As Li Ming-che participated in NGO advocacy in Taiwan, familiar organizations such as Covenants Watch and Taiwan Association for Human Rights, and other partner organizations submitted complaints to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) in April 2017 and October 2018, both of which were reviewed. As the first Taiwanese person charged with "subverting state power," the alleged "criminal fact" by the Chinese government was his online expressions while in Taiwan. The Li Ming-che incident serves as an groundbreaking example of China utilizing its law enforcement to charge against Taiwanese online activities, clearly an attempt by China to extend its jurisdiction over Taiwan.

On April 13, 2022, after serving his sentence, Li Ming-che returned to Taiwan, continuing to share his experiences of being detained in China and providing observations on Taiwanese society as he continues to advocate for human rights and democracy.


Li Ching-yu's courage challenges the brokerage networks that navigate between both sides of the Taiwan Strait. As a result, civic groups have expanded their international efforts and advocacy capacity. The conviction of Li Ming-che indicates China's intent to extend its judicial jurisdiction to Taiwan, and highlighted that authentic, courageous, and dignified human rights defenders are the greatest threat to authoritarian regimes.

Participating Organizations

Reference books

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