Lee Meng-chu is accused of filming Chinese troops gathering at the border with Hong Kong during protests in 2019

Shenzhen River, the border river that divides Hong Kong and Shenzhen is seen from Shenzhen, China,
Lee Meng-chu was accused of filming Chinese troop movements in Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong during protests in 2019. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters 

A Taiwanese man detained in China and accused of endangering national security appeared on Chinese television on Sunday evening, “confessing” to illegally filming military exercises in a city bordering Hong Kong during protests there last year.Human rights organisations accuse China of regularly forcing detainees to deliver public confessions broadcast on television, in a country where the opaque judicial system remains subject to the ruling Communist party.

Relatives of Lee Meng-chu had said he went missing after crossing from Hong Kong into Shenzhen on 19 August, 2019.

At the time, thousands of Chinese military police had gathered in a stadium in Shenzhen for exercises with armoured vehicles. The manoeuvres had fuelled speculation that China was going to deploy its forces to intervene in the Hong Kong unrest.

Taiwanese man Lee Meng-chuTaiwanese man Lee Meng-chu has been detained in China. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

“I took my phone to record some videos,” Lee said in the CCTV state television report on Sunday, which was interspersed with scenes from his alleged actions.

“I am sorry. I have done a lot of bad things,” said Lee, his hair cropped short, wearing a blue shirt and an orange vest with his prisoner number.

According to CCTV, he went to Shenzhen for the sole purpose of observing the manoeuvres.

He reportedly shot 16 videos and took 48 photos around the stadium. After he shared some on the internet, he was reportedly arrested by state security.

The Chinese government has accused Taiwanese authorities and activists in recent months of supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.