Newswatch | Newswatch

You are here

One year on, faint hope for reporter held in China

The year-long detention without trial of a Hong Kong reporter accused by China of spying for Taiwan is “not human”, activists pushing for his release said on Friday, but there was no clear end in sight.

Ching Cheong, who worked for the Singapore Straits Times newspaper, was taken into custody in southern China a year ago on Saturday and formally arrested in August.

His was one of a series of detentions of Chinese reporters that have stoked international criticism of China’s controls on the media.

In a setback for hopes of a resolution any time soon, the case was sent back to the state security ministry in mid-February for further investigation, and in March was returned to the prosecutor’s office, said C.M. Mak of the Ching Cheong Incident Concern Group.

The prosecutor has a month, with a two-week extension period, in which to decide whether to release Ching, proceed to trial, or send the case back down to state security for more investigation.

The legal back-and-forth could go on “quite indefinitely”, Mak told a news conference to mark the one-year anniversary of Ching’s detention.

“This is why we have to speak out. We are very concerned because this is not fair. It’s not fair to our friend,” he said, adding later it was “not human”.

The group’s call for Ching’s release came as Chinese President Hu Jintao wrapped up a four-day visit to the United States.

After Hu met U.S President George W. Bush on Thursday, national security adviser Stephen Hadley told Reuters China appeared willing to resolve three of six long-standing human rights cases. It was not clear if Ching’s case was one of them.

In January, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post said relatives were told his case had been referred to a prosecutor’s office in Beijing to decide whether he would be prosecuted.

Xinhua news agency said last year Ching received millions of Hong Kong dollars from Taiwan’s intelligence apparatus and used the money to buy unspecified information on China’s political, economic and military affairs between 2000 and 2005.

His wife, May Lau, has been adamant that he did nothing wrong and that he was a patriot.

“I and our family urge the related departments to clarify the facts of this case and settle it as early as possible in order to release Ching Cheong,” she said in an statement on Friday.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan part of its sovereign territory and insists on its eventual reunification, by force if necessary.

Date posted: April 21, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 2354