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It's been almost three weeks since Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner Chung Ting-pang was detained by mainland authorities. His wife and daughter have now been given visiting rights, and Taiwan is being urged to send officials along for the trip to ensure their safety.
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The family of a Taiwanese citizen detained in China says they want Taiwanese officials to accompany them on a visit to the mainland. Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council notified the family of the detainee, Chung Ting-pang this week that Chinese authorities have given them visiting rights.
Chung is an adherent of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, which flourishes in Taiwan but has been banned in China. He visited family in Jiangxi province on June 15th. On June 18th, before boarding his return flight to Taiwan, Chinese state security forces took him from the airport. He's since been accused of endangering state security, and is under residential surveillance at an undisclosed location.
Chung's family has not spoken to him since his detention. His daughter, Alice Chung, expressed on Thursday that Taiwanese officials should be present when they visit Chung.
[Alice Chung, Daughter of Detained Taiwan Falun Gong Practitioner]:
"I will ask that someone from the government accompanies us in order for us to go. Because if the government is not even willing to send people, it means they cannot ensure our safety."
Taiwan cross-strait authorities said on Friday they are still considering the issue.
[Ma Shaw-chang, Deputy Secretary-General, Strait Exchange Foundation]:
"We have not made the final decision, we still need to negotiate with the family and Mainland authorities."
Taiwan's legislators have stepped in, calling on the government to have officials accompany Chung's wife and daughter during the trip.
[Mei-Nu Yu, Taiwan Legislator]:
"The Strait Exchange Foundation should overcome any difficulty and accompany them, at least have one person, in case they run into any problems. [Mr Chung] was, after all, taken from the airport. So now that the mother and daughter are going, we want the government to guarnatee their personal safety."
Chung Ting-pang is accused of tampering with television broadcast signals. State run media reports did not say specifically how he was tampering with the signal, but in 2002 a group of Falun Gong practitioners successfully tapped into Changchun city's state-controlled cable. After intercepting the airwaves, they broadcasted fifty minutes of material about the persecution of Falun Gong. Information Chinese authorities have deemed illegal to see.
Chun's supporters say they do know whether the charges are true, but even if they are, that he is doing a service to the Chinese public by attempting to broadcast information about the persecution that's taking place inside their country.