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SEF head urges China to release convicted Taiwanese activist

2017/12/01 23:23:43

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂)/CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 1 (CNA) The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) called on China Friday to release convicted Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲) as soon as possible in order to not jeopardize the future development of relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Speaking at a joint meeting of the SEF boards of directors and supervisors, Tien said that he saw China's handling of Lee's case as deeply regrettable, and expressed fears that it would produce a negative impact on the future development of cross-strait ties.

Lee was sentenced by a court in China on Tuesday to five years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights for "subversion of state power."

A staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, Lee was arrested on March 19 after entering Guangdong Province from Macau.

China has accused Lee of cooperating with Peng Yuhua (彭宇華), a Chinese citizen, in "organizing, planning and taking action to subvert national authority and overthrow the socialist system."

It said they had used online discussion groups to disseminate information and articles attacking the Chinese government and system.

At the trial's only hearing on Sept. 11, both Lee and Peng pleaded guilty to the charge in what many described as a "forced confession."

The verdict was handed down by the Yueyang Intermediate People's Court in Hunan Province.

Tien said that Lee had long paid attention to the development of democracy and civil society in mainland China and had decided to share with his friends Taiwan's experiences in this regard.

"I do believe that Lee has a good intention in doing so, which is based on his concern about the people on the mainland," the SEF head said.

Freedom of speech and rule of law are common values in democratic nations and must be protected, Tien said.

(By Chai Sze-chia and Romulo Huang)