Politics behind verdict on convicted Taiwanese: Chinese experts

Beijing-It cannot be ruled out that the verdict a Chinese court handed down against Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che (???) for "subversion of state power" was determined by political considerations and meant to send a warning to other pro-democracy advocates, a Chinese human right lawyer said Tuesday.

Lee was sentenced to five years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights by the Yueyang Intermediate People's Court in Hunan province on Tuesday.

Lee said he will not appeal.

Mo Shaoping (???), a Chinese lawyer who takes on "politically sensitive" cases, said that the verdict in Lee's case might have been driven by political rather than legal considerations.

While China's constitution states that citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, it also prohibits anything contrary to the interests of the state, Mo said.

In China, anyone who expresses opinions contrary to those of the Communist Party can be charged with "inciting subversion of state power" or "subversion of state power," Mo said, adding that the sedition law has sparked much heated debates in Chinese academic circles on the right to dissent and freedom of expression.

A staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, Lee was arrested on March 19 after entering Guangdong province from Macau.

China said in May that Lee had been arrested on charges of subversion of state power.

On Sept. 11, Lee pleaded guilty in what many considered a coerced confession to the charge at a court hearing.

China accused Lee of cooperating with Peng Yuhua (???), a Chinese citizen, in "organizing, planning and taking action to subvert national authority and overthrow the socialist system."

It said they used online discussion groups to disseminate information and articles attacking the Chinese government and system.

Anyone involved in organizing a political party or an association to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party's one-party rule can be deemed to be "subverting state power," according to Mo.

As the court considered Lee an "active participant" and sentenced him to five years in prison because he acknowledged guilt but expressed remorse, it is difficult to say the sentence is inconsistent with China's Criminal Law, Mo said.

Article 105 of China's Criminal Law stipulates a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for "ringleaders" who try to subvert the government, 10-years for "active participants" and three-years for "other participants."

However, Lee is the first Taiwanese convicted of attempting to overthrow the Chinese government, Mo noted, adding that according to the Criminal Law, the law is applicable to PRC citizens who commit the crimes specified outside the territory of the PRC. This shows China's special relations with Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Zhao Sile (???), a Guangzhou-based freelance writer and feminist journalist, said the punishment handed to Lee was heavy and appeared to be a political signal from Beijing to Taiwan's government.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel