In March 2023, Chinese state security officers in Shanghai detained radio host Li Yanhe while he was visiting relatives in the city. (Photo Credit: Radio Taiwan International)

Chinese authorities detain Taiwan-based publisher and radio host Li Yanhe on national security charge

Taipei, April 26, 2023—Chinese authorities must immediately release radio host Li Yanhe and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

In March, state security officers in Shanghai detained Li, a book publisher and radio host for Taiwanese public broadcaster Radio Taiwan International, who goes by the name Fucha, while he was visiting relatives in the city, according to news reports and a Wednesday, April 26, press conference by Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, reviewed by CPJ.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said during the press conference that Li is under investigation for “conducting activities endangering national security.”

“The detention of publisher and radio host Li Yanhe is yet another example of China’s suffocating intolerance of a free press,” said Iris Hsu, CPJ’s China representative. “Chinese authorities must stop pinning national security charges on both foreign and local journalists.” 

Li, who was born in China, immigrated to Taiwan in 2009 and founded Gusa Press, which has published books that are critical of Chinese authorities. Li also hosts the show “Seeing China This Way – Time with Fucha” on Radio Taiwan International, where he discusses Chinese politics and current affairs.

CPJ’s calls to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office were not answered.

At least 43 journalists were imprisoned in China for their work as of December 1, 2022, according to CPJ’s annual prison census, making it the second largest jailer of journalists worldwide after Iran.  

In 2019, China arrested Australian blogger Yang Hengjun on espionage charges. He is still detained and alleged during a May 2022 court trial that he was subjected to severe physical abuse while being questioned. 

In 2020, authorities arrested Australian anchor Cheng Lei, who worked for Chinese state broadcaster China Global Television Network, for allegedly conducting “criminal activity endangering China’s national security.” Cheng is still in detention and was put on a secret trial in March 2022.

After the publication of this article, Radio Taiwan International chairperson Cheryl Lai told CPJ that the outlet called on China “to release our radio host Fucha immediately, and respect his freedom of publishing and expression.”

She said that Li’s program “aims to foster mutual understanding and peace across the Taiwan Strait” and added that, “with no free press and no free flow of information in China, Fucha’s program is especially important.”

[Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include Lai’s comments to CPJ.]