AFP reported that less than a week after a WSJ journalist was arrested in Russia for alleged spying on the part of a Russian citizen, Chinese authorities resorted to a similar playbook, claiming that a Taiwanese editor who went missing during a visit to Shanghai is being investigated by Chinese authorities for suspected crimes against national security.
Zhu Fenglian (spokeswoman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office) said that Li Yanhe is being investigated by national security bodies on suspicion of engaging activities endangering the national security. She said that "the relevant parties will protect Li's legitimate rights and interest in accordance with law."
Activists in Taiwan and journalists in Taiwan had alerted the public to Li's disappearance. Dissident Chinese poet Bei Lin wrote in a post on Facebook last week that Li is believed to have "secretly been detained" while visiting his family in Shanghai last month.
Li's Gusa Books published books critical of China's ruling Communist Party. These include a history of alleged Chinese persecution in the western region Xinjiang, and a book on Beijing's worldwide propaganda efforts.
China's broad-based national security law prohibits "separatist" activities and "subversion", as well as other actions that are deemed to be a threat to the state.
Before his release in 2013, Chinese authorities had jailed Taiwanese activist for democracy Lee Ming-che, who was convicted of a crime against national security.
Five Hong Kong bookshops that sold gossip-filled books about China's top leaders disappeared in 2015 -- one of them from Thailand. They then resurfaced on the mainland, making "confessions".
Beijing has increased pressure on Taiwan following the election in 2016 of Tsai, who views the island as a separate nation that is not a part of the "one China". This includes arresting a number of Taiwanese citizens.
Beijing confirmed Li's arrest a day after Chinese officials formally filed secession charges against Taiwanese political activist Yang Chih Yuan, who is the leader of a small party that advocates for Taiwan's formal independence.
Chiu Tai-san warned that Beijing's "long-arm authority" was a concern in Mainland Affairs Council on Wednesday.
"This has the odor of intimidation and is a display of oppression by them,"
Chiu stated at a parliamentary session that Taiwanese officials were "offering the necessary assistance" to Li's and Yang’s families. Chiu was quoted by local media as saying Li's sister, mother and wife had been "warned", without providing any further details.
China has declared Taiwan to be its territory, and pledged that it will seize the island one day by force.