Interview with Eeling Chiu

Being a human rights activist, Eeling Chiu was active in supporting Lee Ming-che, the first Taiwanese being sentenced to prison in the People’s Republic of China for allegedly engaging in activities against the state. SLD spoke to Eeling about the case of Lee Ming-che and human rights in China.

SLD: Eeling, you were involved in the case of defending Lee Ming-che, who is the first Taiwanese citizen to be sentenced to prison in the People’s Republic over allegations of subversive behaviour. Do you think this trial was politically motivated?

Chiu: Before answering the questions, I have to clarify the fact that I’m not a lawyer, but a human rights NGO worker. I’m the Secretary General of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights. Mr. Li Ming-che, who is a program manager in Wenshan Community University, made a lot of online courses about the democracy and history of Taiwan by himself on WeChat to his Chinese online friends. Of course, this trial was totally political since no one should be trial and sent to jail because of his or her online speech. It shows that the PRC government tries to extend its jurisdiction to defenders of human rights from other countries.

SLD: The fear now in Taiwan is that you may be monitored on social media, and whenever you travel to the mainland as a Taiwanese citizen you may face charges. Is this a fear China wants to plant into the inhabitants of Taiwan?

Chiu: The fear which the PRC government wants to put into the Taiwanese people is clear, they want Taiwanese people to censor their online speech by themselves. However, it also shows to many Taiwanese that the PRC government is not a civilized country and is not a country with “rule of law.”

SLD: Recently there have been some incidents that have been interpreted as provocations by the People’s Republic towards Taiwan, namely the installation of new airplane routes very close to Taiwanese airspace without consulting the government of Taiwan, or the cancellation of a Taiwanese TV show over allegations that the production has been, partly, sponsored by the Taiwanese government. The interpretation is that the People’s Republic doesn’t uphold the contracts that it signs.

Chiu: PRC does not only break the cross-Strait peace agreement, but also poses a danger to the regional peace if it keeps doing so. The PRC government tries to control and threaten Taiwanese people through economic and culture sanctions. They use the strategy of warning to block the market of Taiwanese entertainers and try to censor their speech. Also, the PRC breaks the “Cross-Strait Joint Fight against Crime and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement.” Whenever Taiwan arrests anyone from China, it reports to the PRC and provides the family lawyer visitations, but the PRC government stopped communicating with the Taiwanese government after the the DPP came into power. It only shows the childishness of the the PRC.

SLD: How do you see Taiwan’s future? Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced in his party speech last October to crack down on Hong Kong and Taiwan alike.

Chiu: Well, if Xi Jinping continues to cross the line of basic human rights and tries to break the peace by provoking Taiwan, it only leads to the result that all Taiwanese people will support Taiwanese independence more strongly, since no one want to live in a country without freedom. Other countries in the world, as well as the UN, should also do something to punish the country which keeps violating the human rights of its people and of foreigners.

SLD: There are articles floating around every now and then arguing whether of not China was capable of invading Taiwan. What do you think of them?

Chiu: The articles arguing for or against a PRC invasion of Taiwan show that the majority stands with freedom and human rights and does not support the People’s Republic of China. There are a lot of news showing that China has set many missiles aimed at Taiwan. The PRC government Officials also said to the media on Dec. 8th in last year that they will start the war to Taiwan if the American military naval ship arrive Taiwan. Recently, China’s military aircraft have often surpassed Taiwan’s airspace. These are all evidences show that the malicious provocation by China in an attempt to infringe Taiwan.

SLD: The young generation largely favours the independence of Taiwan, which, frankly speaking is already independent but not in rhetoric and official international recognition. Would it not be smart to maintain the status quo to not provoke the People’s Republic and go on with the independent live Taiwanese citizens enjoy these days?

Chiu: If it’s only Taiwan who tries to maintain the status quo, but the PRC continues to extend its power and violate the human rights of the Taiwanese people, the situation will soon change. The constitution of Taiwan and its strange relationship between China also creates much chaos in the domestic laws, diplomacy, and society of Taiwan.

SLD: As a human rights activist: the transition from a one-party ruled dictatorship to a liberal democracy didn’t happen that long ago. Taiwan therefore discusses transitional justice as the Germans did after the wall came down in 1989. What do you recommend to your country in order to reconcile it with its dictatorial past?

Chiu: As a human rights activist, I think revealing the truth is still important, as there are still many archives closed to the public. The culture of memorialises the dictatorship should be changed. The persecutors should take responsibly, for their behaviors and policies in the past. It’s not fair that these people still enjoy the privilege and power in the country.

(Photo: private)