China: RSF calls for release of Taiwan-based publisher

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Li Yanhe, a Chinese national who founded a Taiwanese publishing house specialised in books banned in China, and who is being detained in Shanghai since March 2023.

Li Yanhe, a Chinese publisher based in Taiwan and host of a programme on public broadcaster Radio Taiwan International, has been detained incommunicado by the Shanghai police for over a month, as recently reported by a group of 40 writers, scholars, and senior media workers, and confirmed on 26 April 2023 by Chinese authorities to be investigated for “national security”. Li, better known by the pen name “Fucha”, is the founder and editor-in-chief of Taiwanese publishing house Gūsa Press, which specialises among others in books on China’s politics, banned by Beijing’s regime.

RSF is appalled by the detention of Li Yanhe, one of the last Chinese publishers to still dare release investigative books critical to the regime. We call on Beijing to provide detailed information on his whereabouts, and to ensure that he can return to his family in Taiwan without any further delay.

Cédric Alviani

RSF East Asia Bureau Director

Li Yanhe, born in China and based in Taiwan since 2009, had applied for a Taiwanese passport and was on a trip to Shanghai to cancel his Chinese citizenship, a formality requested by the Taiwanese immigration rules, when he suddenly disappeared.

Li is not the only publisher detained in China in recent years. In 2015, five Hong kong-based publishers suddenly disappeared to reappear a few months later as detainees on Chinese public TV. One of them, Chinese-born Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai, is still being detained and was in 2020 sentenced to ten years in prison for “illegally providing state secrets and intelligence overseas”. 

Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he began a crusade against journalism as revealed in RSF’s report The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, which details Beijing’s efforts to control information and media within and outside its borders.

China ranks 175th out of 180 in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world’s largest captor of journalists and press freedom defenders with at least 114 detained.