Beijing, Nov 29: China on Wednesday defended a five-year prison sentence handed down to a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist who held online political lectures and helped the families of jailed Chinese dissidents, saying the punishment was arrived at partly due to the “degree of harm to society.”
The trial of Lee Ming-che was seen as a demonstration of how Beijing’s harshest crackdown on human rights in decades has extended beyond the Chinese mainland, and sent a chill through Taiwanese society.
Lee and a mainland Chinese colleague pleaded guilty and were convicted on the vaguely defined charge of “subversion of state power.”
The Chinese man, Peng Yuhua, was given a seven-year sentence. Both said they would not appeal — a possible sign they had reached a deal with the court in exchange for a degree of leniency.
Spokesman for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office Ma Xiaoguang told reporters today that Lee’s sentence was based on “the facts, the nature and circumstances of the crime and the degree of harm to the society.”
Ma offered no specific details on the degree of harm, but said, “Whether Lee Ming-che’s actions endanger the security and security of the mainland should be judged by mainland laws,” rather than by
Taiwan’s government and human rights groups have condemned the trial and sentencing as unacceptable and a legal farce.
It was also criticised by Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu, who was in China for the sentencing and planned to issue a statement on her return to Taiwan this afternoon.
The case has drawn widespread attention on the island, possibly hardening attitudes among supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party who have resisted making political concessions to China.