China releases jailed Taiwanese activist, sends him home

Taiwanese activist Li Ming-che admitted during his trial to having criticised China's ruling Communist Party. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - A Taiwanese activist jailed in China returned to Taiwan on Friday (April 15) after completing a five-year sentence.

Mr Li Ming-che, a community college lecturer and activist at a human rights non-governmental organisation in Taiwan, disappeared while visiting China in 2017.

Later that year, a Chinese court found him guilty of subversion in a trial that his wife denounced as illegitimate, saying she had not been allowed to hire lawyers for her husband.

Mr Li landed at Taiwan's main international airport in Taoyuan, and will first have to complete government-mandated quarantine, a group of Taiwanese human rights groups that campaigned for his release said in a statement.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office said this week that Mr Li's sentence would soon be complete and he would be returned to Taiwan.

He admitted during his trial to having criticised China's ruling Communist Party and to having shared articles and arguments promoting Taiwan's multi-party democracy.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said it was happy Mr Li was home.

"The government believes that there is no crime in spreading democratic ideals," the council said.

Mr Li stood trial alongside Chinese national Peng Yuhua, 37, who confessed to creating instant messaging groups and founding an organisation that sought to promote political change in China.

Beijing maintains that Taiwan is part of China and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control, while democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being governed by the Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

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