China warns Taiwan against hyping up jailing of activist

Taiwanese Lee Ming-che was found guilty of attempting to promote political reform in China, a result the DPP has called "unacceptable".
Taiwanese Lee Ming-che was found guilty of attempting to promote political reform in China, a result the DPP has called "unacceptable".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIJING • China has said that any attempt to hype up its decision to jail a Taiwanese rights activist for subversion would be futile, after Taiwan's ruling political party labelled the result "unacceptable".

A Chinese court on Tuesday jailed Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese community college lecturer and human rights non-governmental worker, for five years for subverting Chinese state power.

Lee was tried alongside mainland activist Peng Yuhua, who received a seven-year sentence for the same charge. Both were found guilty of attempting to promote political reform in China through discussions of democracy in social media chatrooms.

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the result was "totally unacceptable" and called for Beijing to return Lee to Taiwan. It is not a crime for him to share his opinions about democratic freedoms with friends, they said.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said at a regular news briefing yesterday: "Any attempts to hype up the case for political ends or to instigate opposition between compatriots across the strait will all be futile."

Although Taiwan and Beijing should have mutual respect for each other's social systems and development paths, Taiwan cannot "impose" its political ideas on the mainland or use the cover of democratic freedoms to break Chinese law, Mr Ma said.

Ties between Beijing and the self-ruled island have been frosty since Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen led the independence-leaning DPP to election victory last year. Beijing claims the island as part of China and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.

Lee's supporters expressed concern over the verdict's implication for the rights of Taiwanese citizens, saying that Lee had expressed his opinions online while on Taiwan soil.

The Global Times, a state-backed tabloid popular with China's nationalists, said in an editorial yesterday that the DPP's statement was tantamount to encouraging Taiwanese to come to China and break the law.

"We hope that Taiwanese people will not accept the DPP's witchcraft and will not become an assault team or sacrificial victims for them," the paper said. "One's own safety should be more important than the slogans they utter."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2017, with the headline 'China warns Taiwan against hyping up jailing of activist'. Print Edition | Subscribe