Wife of jailed Taiwanese activist to attend Trump address

Lee Ching-yu has been invited to the U.S. ceremony on Tuesday night

Lee Ching-yu

Lee Ching-yu (AP photo)

WASHINGTON (CNA) — Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), the wife of a Taiwanese democracy advocate jailed in China, has been invited to attend U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, according to an NGO helping organize her U.S. visit.

In a telephone interview with CNA, Taiwan Association for China Human Rights (TACHR) Chairman Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏) said Lee will attend Trump's speech at the invitation of Republican Representative Chris Smith.

Lee Ching-yu's presence will reflect Washington's concerns over the rights of the jailed activist, Lee Ming-che (李明哲), which are being undermined by the Chinese regime, Yang said.

Lee Ching-yu arrived in Washington on Sunday for a week-long visit in an attempt to seek international assistance for her husband after accusing China of treating him in an inhumane manner.

Lee Ming-che has been imprisoned in Hunan Province since late 2017 on charges of "subverting state power."

Yang said Lee Ching-yu's trip to Washington to seek help was based on the Taiwan Relations Act, which stipulates: "Nothing contained in this Act shall contravene the interest of the United States in human rights, especially with respect to the human rights of all the approximately eighteen million inhabitants of Taiwan."

The act also says that "the preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan are hereby reaffirmed as objectives of the United States."

On Monday, Lee's delegation visited Carl Gershman, president of the nonprofit organization National Endowment for Democracy, said Yang, who is part of the delegation.

Gershman gave Lee Ching-yu a letter advocating the release of her husband to demonstrate the support for him among people in the U.S.

Lee Ching-yu decided to go to the U.S. after Beijing barred her from visiting her husband for three months after she spoke out about the bad living conditions in the jail where he is being held.

According to the TACHR, Lee was notified by Chishan Prison in late January that she would not be allowed to visit her husband between Jan. 23 and April 22 because she had "distorted" the facts about his treatment in prison, after her last visit on Dec. 18.

At that time, Lee Ching-yu told reporters in Taipei that Chishan Prison was treating her husband inhumanely and had frozen his bank account, making it impossible for him to buy food and clothes.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office responded by saying she was "spreading politically motivated misinformation."

Lee Ming-che has been detained by the Chinese government since March 19, 2017, when he entered Guangdong province from Macau.

He was convicted in November 2017 on a charge of "subversion of state power" after being accused of disseminating information and articles online against the Chinese government and system.

Lee, a staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, was the first Taiwanese to be convicted of attempting to overthrow the Chinese government. Lee said at the trial he would not appeal the ruling of the Yueyang Intermediate People's Court in Hunan Province.

He was sentenced to five years in prison and the deprivation of his political rights for two years.