When I read Michael Turton's post about the impending harassment of signatories to the recent Open Letter to Ma Ying-jeou, I was particularly struck by one of the paragraphs from the Taipei Times report:
Now we all know that if Taiwan were China, a variety of disasters could befall those signing such a letter. As foreigners, they would most likely just be expelled or denied visa extensions. (Keep an eye out for anything like that happening here in Taiwan; at this stage I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see pressure on universities to remove these academics from their current posts.)Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), head of the ministry’s Department of North American Affairs, said yesterday the ministry would contact each of the signatories to check if they initiated the petition themselves or just added their names to it, what their concerns were and what exactly they knew about the matter.
But if the signatories were Chinese and this were in China, everything depends on the mode the authorities are in. In the wake of the aborted attempt at a Jasmine Revolution, they would likely be detained for a significant period of time or sentenced to a year of hard labor by the police without going through the courts. At best they'd be shadowed by state security on a regular basis or put under house arrest.
But in a "feel good" political cycle in China, signatories would likely be asked to come "drink tea" with the authorities. You can find many accounts of those type of meetings, which typically involve the police asking someone to verify your attachment to the cause they've signed off on; a "friendly" discussion and "debate" with a point of trying to convince them to give the cause up and discouraging them from advancing it; and the ever looming possibility of follow up discussions or winding up on a round up list.
And Bruce's comment aboves reminds me a bit of a "tea drinking" session.
Tim Maddog over at Taiwan Matters! (where I am too frequently a contributor), Ben Goren, Michael Turton, and the Taipei Times have all worked hard to try and keep track of the myrid ways the KMT has curtailed free speech, brought political influence into government news organizations and chilled speech in public protests and letters.
I am alternatively furious and terrified at the direction this is going.