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China’s Arrest of Taiwanese Activist on Separatism Charges Signals Wider Crackdown on Dissent

On April 25th, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of China issued a statement announcing that the Wenzhou Prosecutor’s Office in Zhejiang Province had granted formal approval for the arrest of Yang Zhiyuan, a Taiwanese national, on the charge of “separatism.” Should he be convicted, he could potentially face a sentence of life imprisonment. This development has sparked considerable consternation among Taiwanese netizens, with some even characterizing China as a “terrorist state.” Yang Zhiyuan, who is approximately 33 years of age, serves as the vice chairman of the Taiwan Nationalist Party and has previously sought election to Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan. He has taken a firm political stance and expressed support for Taiwan’s independence as well as its bid for admission to the United Nations.

CDHRA regards this incident as indicative of China’s broadening campaign to suppress dissenting voices among overseas political activists, including Taiwanese democracy advocate Lee Ming-che, who recently completed his sentence, and Fu Chien, a cultural figure from Taipei who was recently arrested, as well as a Japanese pharmaceutical businessman who has been charged with espionage. This pattern of arrests and convictions may well be contributing to a palpable chill in the international community.

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