China jails Taiwanese activist for five years for ‘subversion’


China has sentenced Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che 李明哲 to five years in prison for “subverting state power,” the BBC reports.

  • Lee disappeared in China in March and was not heard from for 172 days. In September, he received a trial and gave a scripted confession to the crimes.
  • Chris Horton writes (paywall) in the New York Times that from Taipei, many viewed the case as “the latest shot fired in China’s psychological war on Taiwan” that has heated up since Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文 was elected president in 2016.
  • Because Lee’s only apparent crime was spreading information about democracy via Facebook and his connections in China, it has had a “chilling effect” on human rights organizations in Taiwan, one organizer said.
  • Taiwan’s government has called the ruling “unacceptable,” the Taipei Times reports, with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party adding in a statement that the case “indicates China’s indifference to the universal values of democracy and human rights, and damages its international reputation, while hurting the feeling of Taiwanese.”

Speaking of indifference to human rights, Jiang Tianyong 江天勇, a lawyer convicted of crimes similar to Lee’s, received the backing of a group of United Nations human rights experts last week, the Hong Kong Free Press says. In their statement, they noted that “Jiang’s trial clearly fell short of international standards” and argued that his “only crime was to exercise his rights to free speech and to defend human rights.”