Taiwan calls for release of convicted Taiwanese activist in China

2017/11/28 15:25:22 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Lee Ming-che (李明哲, right)/CNA file photo

Lee Ming-che (李明哲, right)/CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) Taiwan's government has again called on Beijing to immediately release pro-democracy advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) after a Chinese court on Tuesday sentenced him to five years in prison for "subversion of state power."

The Yueyang Intermediate People's Court in Hunan province also sentenced Lee to deprivation of political rights for two years.

In response, Taiwan's Presidential Office expressed regret at the verdict, saying "spreading pro-democracy ideas is not a crime."

Lee shared his ideas about democracy and freedom with friends in China through online messaging platforms because he cared about the development of democracy and civil society in China, Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang (黃重諺) said.

It is "unacceptable" that Lee was given a prison sentence for doing that, Huang said, calling on Beijing to release Lee.

Huang said China's handling of the case was "regrettable" because it had hurt cross-strait relations, in particular by going against the Taiwanese people's belief in freedom and democracy.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), its main China policy agency, also said the verdict was "unacceptable" because it was counter to universal values such as human rights and democracy.

In a statement, the MAC said Lee was only sharing Taiwan's democratic development experience with friends in China via Internet, which posed no threat to China's security or stability.

The MAC said the ruling in Lee's case will adversely affect cross-strait exchanges and tarnish China's international image.

Taiwan is highly concerned about Lee's personal safety and freedom, the MAC said, calling on China to ensure his good health, protect his human rights, and release him as soon as possible.

China should also grant visitation rights for Lee's family, the MAC said, adding that the Taiwan government will continue its efforts to ensure his safe return to Taiwan.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party also expressed regret at the verdict and said Beijing should allow Lee to return to Taiwan as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the opposition Kuomintang urged the MAC to do everything in its power to ensure that Lee's personal rights are being protected in China.

(By Miao Zong-han, Fan Cheng-hsiang, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Evelyn
Kao)
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