Mon Sep 11, 2017 07:56AM
This video grab from footage on the website of Yueyang Intermediate People’s Court taken on September 11, 2017 shows Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-cheh (2nd L) appearing in court in Yueyang in China’s central Hunan province. (Via AFP)
This video grab from footage on the website of Yueyang Intermediate People’s Court taken on September 11, 2017 shows Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-cheh (2nd L) appearing in court in Yueyang in China’s central Hunan province. (Via AFP)

A pro-independence Taiwanese activist on trial in mainland China has confessed to making attempts to subvert the government in Beijing.

Lee Ming-cheh, 42, made the confession, alongside a Chinese accomplice named Peng Yuhua, at the Yueyang intermediate court in central Hunan Province, according to video footage posted on the court’s official social media account on Monday.

Lee confessed he had written and distributed online articles that criticized China’s ruling Communist Party.

His online articles in social media “attacked and wickedly smeared the Chinese government” and “promoted Western-style multi-party democracy.”

“I know that my behavior definitely violated Chinese law,” said Lee, adding, “I express my guilt and regrets.”

Lee’s wife and mother attended the trial. Both women were accompanied by several officials from Taiwan’s semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation, which handles relations with the mainland.

Lee’s arrest

Lee went missing on a trip to China in March. The authorities in Beijing later confirmed that he was being investigated on suspicion of damaging national security.

Cheng Hsiu-chuan, president of Taipei’s Wenshan Community College where Lee has worked for the past year as a program director, said Lee used WeChat to “teach” an unknown number of people about China-Taiwan relations under the government of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan (Photo by AFP)

“For China, the material he was teaching would be seen as sensitive,” Cheng said. WeChat has hundreds of millions of active users and is hugely popular as a means of communication in China.

Lee had traveled annually to China for the past decade to see friends, Cheng said.

On his most recent trip, during which he disappeared, Lee had planned to see friends and obtain Chinese medicine for his mother-in-law in Taiwan, his wife, Lee Ching-yu said.

China sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, with the leaders in Beijing saying that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island of Taiwan from mainland China, will eventually unify. China and Taiwan split amid a civil war in 1949.

Beijing mounted pressure on Taiwan since the election last year of President Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party advocates Taiwan’s formal independence.

China wants Tsai to acknowledge the island is part of “One China”, but she has refused to do so.