A Chinese court on Nov. 28 sentenced Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-cheh to five years in prison on charges of attempting to "subvert state power." Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council immediately denounced the sentence as "unacceptable" and "politically motivated." Lee was sentenced alongside Chinese citizen Peng Yuhua by the Yueyang City Intermediate People's Court, in Hunan province. Peng was sentenced to seven years, also for "subverting state power." The convictions followed a trial in September 2017. Lee first went missing in March 2017 after crossing the border from Macao to Zhuhai, Guangdong, in southern China. Ten days later Chinese officials confirmed he was being held on suspicion of "endangering national security." The case concerned an Internet chat group Peng started in 2012. Prosecutors said the group attempted to foment a "Western color revolution."
Lee and Peng both pleaded guilty at a hearing this September, after being held for two years without counsel. Lee was incriminated on the basis of social media content he posted on platforms including WeChat, QQ and Facebook.
Roseann Rife, East Asia director at Amnesty International, said: "Lee Ming-cheh is the victim of a politically motivated prosecution. The evidence against him is not credible, his conviction preposterous but predictable. He is the latest to suffer under the Chinese authorities' relentless attack against human rights and democracy activists. For prosecutors to use Lee's online discussions on democracy, the fall of the Soviet Union and the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown as evidence against him highlights how baseless his conviction is. His so-called confession is highly dubious and was most likely extracted under extreme duress."