11/28/2017, 14.46
CHINA – TAIWAN

Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che sentenced to five years in prison

He is accused of subversion for promoting democracy in social media. He was tried in September after he went missing in March as he entered China. Taiwan reacted angrily. Relations between Beijing and Taipei are increasingly difficult.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che will spend the next five years in prison. A court in Hunan Province tried and convicted him in September on subversion charges.

According to Chinese authorities, he was working with a Chinese national to attack the Chinese government and promote “Western-style democracy” on messaging platforms and social media.

Lee, 42, is a member of a Taiwanese pro-democracy NGO, and was often in contact with civil society groups in mainland China. He shared with them Taiwan’s democratic experiences, sending them several books.

On 19 March, he went missing after crossing into China at Zhuhai from Macau. Chinese authorities later confirmed his detention on suspicion of subversion.

Taiwan reacted angrily to the conviction of one of its citizens. In a statement on Tuesday, the office of Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen reiterated her call for his release, and said it could not accept his sentencing as "the idea of spreading democracy is innocent".

"It is regrettable that the Lee Ming-che case has seriously damaged cross-strait relations and especially challenged Taiwanese people's persistence and ideals for democracy and freedom," the statement said.

Ties between Taiwan and China have soured since Ms Tsai, known for her pro-independence views, took power last year.

Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland one day. On several occasions, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his opposition to the threat of separatism.

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