The wives of two Chinese activists involved in attempts to organize an independent political party say their husbands have stood trial on the charge of subverting state power.

If convicted by the court in the eastern city of Hangzhou, Lu Gengsong and Chen Shuqing could face up to life in prison.

Lu's wife, Wang Xue'e, and Chen's wife, Zhang Donghong, said the men pleaded not guilty to the charge when standing trial in Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday.

They said the men, who were tried separately, argued that they were exercising their rights to speech and organization as granted by Chinese law.

The court has yet to rule on the cases.

China has a one-party rule under the Communist Party.