The publisher of a Los Angeles-based Chinese newspaper was arrested today and accused of printing propaganda for mainland China.
The Government Information Office said Lee Ya-ping, 62, publisher of the Chinese-language International Daily News, had consistently published editorials, columns and news items that supported Peking’s overtures for peaceful reunification of mainland China with Taiwan.
It said she was arrested by the Garrison Command, Taiwan’s chief security agency, and was being held without bail for investigation.
The command said Lee was charged with violating an article of the Anti-Sedition Act forbidding the spread of propaganda that benefits rebels. Mainland Chinese communists are considered under Taiwan law to be rebels.
Could Face Death
The statement said a military court was in charge of Lee’s case. If convicted, she could be sentenced to death under Taiwan’s laws.
The publisher, a San Marino resident, returned in April to Taiwan, where she has investments in real estate and commodities.
Lee is also chairwoman of the International Business College and International Business Senior High School in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.
Anthony Yuen, editor in chief at the paper’s Monterey Park headquarters, said that Lee’s husband, Tao Chen, and their five children are all American citizens but that she has only immigrant status in the United States. Still a citizen of Taiwan, Lee has lived in the United States for more than 15 years, he said.
Funded by Investments, Savings
The paper’s capital comes from the family’s investments and savings in the United States, Yuen said.
“We are an American newspaper,” he said. “The only difference is we publish in Chinese. That’s all. In our reports, we try very hard to make a balance. . . . Pro-Peking people think we are pro-Taiwan, and the pro-Taiwan people think we are pro-Peking.”
Yuen said he believes that one reason for the arrest may be that the Taiwan government wants to use Lee as a “hostage” to force a change in the paper’s editorial policy. But he said the paper would not bend.
‘Ridiculous Thing to Do’
“It’s a ridiculous thing to do that,” Yuen said. “Everyone will know that the Taiwan government violates human rights, free speech, free press.”
The government statement said Lee had published the full text of an interview she had with Chai Zemin, former Chinese ambassador to the United States, “thus promoting communist psychological warfare.”
Copies of newspapers carrying this and other articles, the statement added, were found circulating in Taiwan despite a ban imposed on the newspaper by the government.
It said Lee also supported communication between Taiwan and the mainland in her articles in the newspaper, which was founded in 1981 and has a circulation of 80,000.