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File Picture: Li Ching-yu (C), wife of Taiwanese human rights activist Li Ming-che, detained in China, attends a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan March 31, 2017.REUTERS/Tyrone Siu


TAIPEI (Reuters) - The wife of Taiwan activist Li Ming-che, sentenced to five years in prison by Chinese authorities for subverting state power, was stopped from flying from Taiwan to China on Tuesday to visit him in prison, rights groups said.

Li Ming-che, a community college lecturer and an activist at a human rights non-governmental organisation in Taiwan, had gone missing while on a trip to China in March. Chinese authorities later charged him with subverting state power.

Li Ching-yu, his wife, refused to recognise the court's authority during the first hearing.

Li bought a plane ticket on Tuesday on Xiamen airlines, with plans to see her husband in prison, according to a statement by several human rights group who are assisting her.

However, because she had travel documents that were deemed invalid to enter China, she was not permitted to board the plane in Taipei, the statement said.

The statement said Li had received a notice from the Chinese government on Monday notifying her that her husband was transferred to a Hunan provice prison on Dec 28. It said that family members were entitled to a family visit once a month.

In April, Li was also denied entry into China despite having valid credentials, the associations said. She was told at the time by the airlines that her travel credentials were cancelled.

"From past years until now, the Chinese government's refusal today to let family members visit relatives in prison in China demonstrates that they do not emphathise to any degree, from the point of view of humanity," the associations said.

The Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official body that oversees relations between Taiwan and China, echoed the statement, calling on Chinese authorities to approve credentials for Li to travel to China, and arrange for a prison visit.

Li could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. China's Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Jess Macy Yu in TAIPEI; Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Michael Perry)

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