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Human rights in China

Wife of detained Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che to attend his trial in mainland China

Island authorities call for pro-democracy campaigner’s safe return

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 September, 2017, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 September, 2017, 10:09pm

The wife and mother of detained Taiwanese rights activist Lee Ming-che were due to arrive on the mainland on Sunday to attend his subversion trial on Monday, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement, calling for Lee’s safe return home.

Lee, a community college teacher and pro-democracy and human rights activist, went missing during a March visit to the mainland.

Authorities later confirmed he had been detained, straining already-tense ties between Beijing and Taipei.

Authorities at the Intermediate People’s Court of Yueyang, in the central province of Hunan, said Lee’s trial on charges of subverting state power would be an open hearing.

Courts on the mainland have video-streamed or live-blogged an increasing numbers of proceedings in recent years as part of a push towards judicial transparency.

However, rights activists say that in sensitive cases, holding “open” hearings is a tool for the authorities to demonstrate state power and that usually the defendant has agreed to an outcome.

On Saturday, Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu, asked supporters to forgive her husband if he said something in court which disappointed them, as he might be required to give testimony against his will.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said it would do everything in its power to enable Lee’s safe return.

“Our government’s approach to this case has been predicated on preserving our country’s dignity while ensuring Lee Ming-che’s safety,” it said.

Lee’s case has strained relations between Taipei and Beijing, which have been particularly tense since President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, took office last year.

Beijing regards the island as a breakaway province and it has never renounced the use of force to bring it back under mainland control.