China defends sentencing of Taiwan pro-democracy activist

China says a five-year prison sentence handed down to a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist who held online political lectures and helped the families of jailed Chinese dissidents was arrived at partly due to the "degree of harm to society."

The trial of Lee Ming-che was a demonstration of how Beijing's harshest crackdown on human rights in decades has extended beyond the Chinese mainland.

Lee and a mainland Chinese colleague were convicted on the vaguelydefined charge of "subversion of state power."

Spokesman for the Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office Ma Xiaoguang told reporters Wednesday that Lee's sentence was based on "the facts, the nature and circumstances of the crime and the degree of harm to the society."

Taiwan's government and human rights groups have condemned the trial and sentencing as unacceptable.