A Taiwanese man held by Chinese authorities for eight months was charged with “secession” by prosecutors on Tuesday, a move Taipei condemned as a rights violation meant to “create fear”.

Beijing has ramped up pressure on Taiwan — including by arresting several Taiwanese people — since President Tsai Ing-wen’s 2016 election because she regards the island as an independent nation and not part of “one China”.

Taiwanese activist Yang Chih-yuan in 2019. File photo: Wikicommons.
Taiwanese activist Yang Chih-yuan in 2019. File photo: Wikicommons.

Yang Chih-yuan was arrested and charged with secession by prosecutors in the eastern Chinese city Wenzhou, China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate said.

“The case is under further processing,” the state prosecutor’s office added in a post on social media, without providing further details.

Yang, 33, is vice chair of a minor political party that advocates for Taiwan’s independence, and he once ran unsuccessfully for the democratic island’s parliament, according to Taiwanese media.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan’s top China policy-making body, said Yang has been detained since August last year.

Beijing has not responded to repeated calls for his release, it added.

Taiwan flag
The Taiwan flag. Photo: Olaer/Elmer Anthony/Flickr.

“The government stresses again that Yang is innocent and urges the Chinese Communist Party to release him so he can return to Taiwan as soon as possible,” MAC said in a statement.

“The Chinese side’s arbitrary arrests of Taiwanese people seriously hurt the rights and interests of our people and create fear”.

The council also urged Taiwanese people to “cautiously evaluate the risk” of going to China in light of its “random violations of personal safety.”

China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to seize it one day, by force if necessary.

Among the most high-profile arrests was of democracy activist Lee Ming-che, who was jailed in China for five years on a national security conviction before his release last year.

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