Cross-strait ties worsen as Chinese court jails Taiwanese activist

Beijing/Taipei: Cross-strait ties between mainland China and Taiwan has hit a new low after a Chinese court on Tuesday jailed a Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che for five years for “subverting state power”, media reports say.

“We regret that Lee’s case seriously damaged cross-strait relations,” Taiwanese presidential office said.

Lee was spreading ideas of democracy and freedom for the well-being of China’s civil society. To call it “state subversion” and jail him is totally unacceptable, a presidential spokesman said.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) too expressed its strong dissatisfaction and regret over the court ruling and asked China to allow Lee to return home.

China-Taiwan ties have soured after Taiwan’s President and DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen refused to recognise Taiwan as part of China during her inaugural last year and began attacking human rights violations in the mainland.

Lee, 42, worked for a NGO by lecturing on democracy and freedom in Taiwan and managing a fund for families of political prisoners in China. He went missing during a trip to China on March 19 this year. Ten days later, Chinese authorities said he had been arrested under a new law which prohibits foreign NGOs from endangering China’s national security.

Prosecutors at the Yueyang court in Huanan province said Lee helped mainland citizen Peng Yuhua in spreading the message of multi-party rule in China through Peng’s Plum Blossom Company and an online chat group. In September, Lee and Peng pleaded “guiltyto subverting Beijing’s authority.

Pang was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment by the court on Tuesday. Both of them said they would not appeal the ruling.

Lee’s wife Li Ching-yu was in the court when the ruling was delivered.

Li Ching-yu said in a statement sent to Reuters that Lee knew rights work came with a cost and he must accept the torment of being made to accept guilt and of being imprisoned.