Taiwanese activist ‘may be forced to plead guilty’ in mainland China subversion trial
Wife says Beijing could pressure Lee Ming-che into making a confession
The wife of a Taiwanese activist Beijing accuses of subversion said her husband may be pressured into pleading guilty when his trial begins on Monday, but she was hopeful that he could return home safely.
Lee Ching-yu said on Saturday that she planned to travel this weekend to attend Lee Ming-che’s trial in Yueyang, Hunan province. Supporters sitting beside her held up signs calling on the mainland to release the activist.
“At this moment, I want to ask my fellow countrymen for their understanding if they see Lee Ming-che do or say anything unbearable in court outside of his free will,” she said.
“This is just the Chinese government being adept at the performance [of having someone confess].”
Lee Ming-che is accused of subversion of state power, a vaguely defined charge often used by authorities to muzzle dissent and imprison critics.
Beijing’s wide-ranging crackdown on civil society has featured a string of televised “confessions” – believed to have been made under coercion – by human rights activists accused of plots to overthrow the political system.
Calls to the court and the activist’s lawyer rang unanswered on Saturday.
Lee Ching-yu said she hoped her husband would be released. “I’m travelling there not to challenge or to argue, but to go to witness the arrival of justice that will let Lee Ming-che return to Taiwan with dignity, and promptly and peacefully,” she said.
Lee Ming-che, 42, cleared immigration in Macau on March 19 but did not show up for a planned meeting later that day with a friend in the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai. He had previously conducted online lectures on Taiwan’s democratisation and managed a fund for families of political prisoners on the mainland.
Amnesty International and other rights organisations have called for Lee Ming-che’s immediate release.
Lee had been a manager of a non-governmental group in Taiwan before his detention.
The new law says foreign NGOs must not endanger the country’s national security and ethnic unity, and subjects non-profit groups to close police supervision. It is seen by critics as the latest attempt by authorities to clamp down on perceived threats to the ruling Communist Party’s control.
Cross-strait relations have been near an all-time low since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party has advocated Taiwan’s formal independence. Beijing cut off contacts with Taipei in June, five months after Tsai was elected.