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 not to jeopardize future relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Speaking at a joint meeting of the SEF board members and supervisors, Tien said that he saw China’s handling of Lee’s case as deeply regrettable and expressed concern that it would have a negative effect on the future development of cross-strait ties.
Lee was on Tuesday sentenced by a court in China to a five-year prison term and deprivation of political rights for two years 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.”
China has claimed that the two used online discussion groups to disseminate information and articles that attacked 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 City Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan Province.
Tien said that Lee had long paid attention to the development of democracy and civil society in China and had decided to share Taiwan’s experiences in this regard with his friends.
“I do believe that Lee had good intentions in doing so, based on his concern for the people on the mainland,” Tien said.
Freedom of speech and rule of law are common values in democratic nations and must be protected, Tien added.
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