Sat, Sep 16, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Chinese man convicted of espionage

‘LENIENT’ SENTENCE:The former National Chengchi University student denied any involvement in espionage, saying he was coerced into making a false confession

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Chinese national Zhou Hongxu stands outside the Taipei District Court yesterday after being sentenced to 14 months in prison for espionage and attempting to bribe a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official.

Photo: CNA

The Taipei District Court yesterday convicted Chinese national Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭) of violating the National Security Act (國家安全法), handing him a 14-month prison sentence.

It was the first ruling on the case and Zhou can still appeal.

The judges found him guilty of spying for China and trying to entice Taiwanese government officials to give classified material for financial rewards.

In particular, prosecutors said that Zhou had offered US$10,000 to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official to pass on classified government materials.

The judges gave Zhou what was considered a lenient sentence of 14 months, considering that “he had initially confessed to the crime” and that “he did not succeed in his espionage efforts.”

During the trial, Zhou rescinded his earlier confession and denied any involvement in espionage or recruitment, saying that he was coerced into making a false confession by investigators.

According to court documents, the 29-year-old, from Benxi in China’s Liaoning Province, was a student at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.

He first came to Taiwan as an exchange student at Tamkang University in 2009, and in September 2012 enrolled in a master of business administration program at National Chengchi University. He graduated in July last year and returned to China the following month.

He returned to Taiwan in February as an executive for Taiwan Yong Ming International Co (台灣詠銘), which is registered in Taipei, but funded by a Hong Kong firm.

Zhou in 2014 attended a cross-strait conference in Shanghai, where a Chinese official surnamed Li (李) told Zhou about getting paid to “carry out tasks” while studying and working in Taiwan, investigators said.

Li told him how to become acquainted with Taiwanese politicians and to target people working in the military, police, intelligence and foreign affairs agencies, they said.

Zhou joined numerous social networks and attended functions to make friends in Taiwan, where he established a relationship with a Ministry of Foreign Affairs junior official, who he tried to convince to pass on information, investigators said.

In yesterday’s ruling, the judges said that Zhou had violated Article 2-1 of the National Security Act, which states: “People are prohibited from carrying on detection, collection, consignation or delivery of any confidential documents, pictures, information or articles, or developing an organization for official use of a foreign country or mainland China, for its militaries, party duties or other official organizations, or the institutions established and specified by the foresaid organizations, or the civil groups entrusted by the foresaid organizations.”

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