TAIPEI – Lee Ching-yu, wife of Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che, will travel to China’s Hunan province on Monday to attend the sentence hearing in the trial against her husband on Tuesday, after China accused him of “subversion of state power.”
Ching-yu will go Monday afternoon accompanied by two officials from the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation, the agency in charge of cross-strait relations, and is expected to be allowed to visit her husband, according to a statement from China’s Mainland Affairs Council.
The activist was arrested after entering China on March 19 for a private visit, although his detention was made public after 10 days and the charges he faces – subversion of state power – were announced in May.
On Sept. 11, he was tried in the city of Yueyang, in central China, where his wife and mother were also present, and during the trial he pleaded guilty to charges of subversion, according to video footage released by the Chinese court.
The trial was described in Taiwan as “political staging.”
It is expected that the verdict against Lee will be delivered on Tuesday, which could see him imprisoned for between 10 years to life if convicted of conspiring to subvert state power.
Apart from volunteering at the NGO Covenant Watch, the Taiwanese activist also worked at a community university in Taiwan and was a former worker with Taiwan’s ruling party the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).
The case has sparked much interest from international organizations, including the United Nations, the US Congress and the European Parliament, as well as fears among Taiwanese human rights activists.
The executive secretary of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Eeling Chiu, told EFE on Monday that there is fear because some acts which Taiwan considers within the right to freedom of expression, such as contacting Chinese through social networks, China deems illegal.
Chiu added that what Lee Ming-che did is not illegal at all.
For many Taiwanese analysts, the harshness of this sentence will show the level of openness towards human rights in China after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which marked a deeper consolidation of President Xi Jinping’s power.