Taiwan Deports Chinese Scholar for Promoting Unification

China President Xi Jinping Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool/AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying

Taiwan on Friday expelled visiting Chinese academic Li Yi of Renmin University on grounds that he planned to deliver a speech promoting the “one country, two systems” model of unification between Taiwan and China.

Taiwanese authorities judged the speech would be a violation of his terms of entry and could “endanger national security and cause public unrest.”

The South China Morning Post explained Li entered Taiwan on a tourist permit, which under Taiwanese law does not allow visitors to engage in professional activities or give political speeches. He was invited by the pro-Beijing Chinese Unity Promotion Party (CUPP) to give just such a speech on Saturday. 

Promotional materials for the event indicated Li would call for a model of China assimilating Taiwan similar to the nominal semi-autonomy of Hong Kong. Taiwanese officials, prominently including President Tsai Ing-wen, have expressed deep reservations about the “Hong Kong model” because the city’s autonomy has steadily eroded over the past few years, even as China grows more domineering and belligerent toward Taiwan. To put it mildly, Taiwanese skeptics of “one country, two systems” see it as a trap.

The SCMP further noted that Li has previously advocated using military force to subdue Taiwan if necessary. Taiwanese students of Li’s writing alerted the government that Li has stated he no longer believes peaceful unification is possible, Taiwan will lose all hope of independence once the People’s Liberation Army of China crosses the Strait of Taiwan, and Beijing should dispatch 25 million immigrants to the island after conquering it to “resolve the Taiwan independence problem” once and for all.

After the Taiwanese immigration service revoked Li’s permit and deported him because he did not leave voluntarily, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang referred to the Chinese academic as a “terrorist.” In fact, Su said slipping into Taiwan disguised as a tourist while planning to advocate forcible unification was “worse than terrorism.”

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) stated the decision to deport Li was endorsed by both Premier Su and President Tsai. “All people here must uphold the national sovereignty, freedom, and democracy, which is the consensus view in Taiwan,” a spokesman for the MAC declared.

The CUPP blasted the decision as “absurd” because Li had not delivered the offending speech yet and was merely advertised on a poster. The poster in question included photos of Li, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Mao Zedong, the brutal founder of Communist China.

The CUPP has scheduled a march for unification on Saturday and Li planned to remain in Taiwan until Monday, so Taiwanese authorities evidently suspected he planned to stir up trouble at the march.

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