Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) The verdict passed down by a Chinese court on Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲) demonstrates Beijing's intent to subject Taiwanese people to its jurisdiction and expand its sovereignty to include Taiwan in the field of law, experts said Tuesday.
Lee, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) worker at Wenshan Community College, was on Tuesday sentenced to five years in prison and deprived of political rights for two years for subversion of state power in China.
According to Raymond Sung (宋承恩), an international law expert, under China's legal system, the status of mainland Chinese residents is differentiated from those living in Taiwan and Hong Kong who are defined as "extraterritorial residents."
In a departure from convention, there were signs during the trial that Lee was not treated as an "extraterritorial resident," although the court failed to specify his status, Sung said.
One of these signs was that what the court considered Lee's illegal activities actually occurred in Taiwan, but were still used as proof of subversion of state power in China, he said.
Given the fact that Lee was not granted political rights in China, the addition of deprivation of political rights enjoyed by Chinese citizens to the sentence was another sign that Lee was not treated as an "extraterritorial resident," Sung said.
According to Article 54 of the Criminal Law of China, being deprived of political rights means individuals forfeit the right to vote and be elected; the right to freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession, and of demonstration; the right to hold a position in state organs; and the right to hold a leading position in a state-owned company, enterprise, or institution or people's organization.
At a press conference held by Taiwanese NGOs calling for the release of Lee, Kao Jung-chih (高榮志), executive director of Judicial Reform Foundation, said that through the trial China has tried to extend its sovereignty and jurisdiction beyond its territory.
Kao urged the Taiwan government to make representation to China about the verdict against Lee because anything he did in Taiwan, whether circulating articles or posting comments online, were fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of China and beliefs deeply held by Taiwanese people.
"That's what every netizen does every day. What is especially worthy of attention in Lee's case is that China has attempted to extend its jurisdiction to cover extraterritorial activities and sovereignty claims without any limit," Kao said.
Kao said that if China continues down this path, anyone could be convicted on the same charge just because of his or her words and thoughts.
On the sentence of five years in prison, Zhao Sile (趙思樂), a Chinese human rights lawyer, said that amounted to a "heavy" sentence on a subversion charge.
In an interview with CNA on Tuesday, Zhao said that being convicted on that charge can carry a 10-year imprisonment or life sentence though offenders serve sentences of three to 10 years in less serious instances.
In recent cases involving Chinese human rights lawyers the accused were given a "light" sentence of less than three years, Zhao said.
One case in point was Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), a leader of the China Human Rights Lawyers Group and an outspoken supporter of detained rights lawyers from the "709 crackdown," who was sentenced on Nov. 21 to two years in prison and three years of deprivation of political rights for "inciting subversion of state power," Zhao said.
By giving Lee a "heavy" sentence, Beijing was putting on a show of force and sending a clear political message to the Taiwan government, Zhao said.
(By Miao Tsung-han, Chai Sze-chia, and Shih Hsiu-chuan) Ednitem/AW