Taiwan condemns ‘totalitarian’ China over ‘spy’ detention

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Feb 03, 2011 - Page 1

Taiwan’s representative office in Australia on Tuesday accused the “repressive totalitarian security apparatus” in China of attempting to “smear” Taiwan by claiming that an Australian citizen arrested in Beijing five years ago was spying for Taipei.

Australian newspapers on Tuesday reported that James Sun, an Australian citizen of Chinese origin who worked for an agency recruiting foreign students to Australia, was detained by Chinese security officials in January 2006 on suspicion of spying for Taiwan.

During his trial, Sun was alleged to have confessed to “seducing” Yang Delong, an acquaintance in the Chinese air force, into copying more than 1,000 classified documents and smuggling them out to be passed on to Taiwanese intelligence.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Australia denied Taiwan had anything to do with Sun and rejected claims that it may have been recruiting agents from within the Chinese-Australian community.

The “allegation is a sheer fabrication concocted by the repressive totalitarian security apparatus to smear Taiwan,” TECO said in a statement on Tuesday. “The operations of the TECO in Australia have always been transparent, law abiding and conducive to the righteous cause of safeguarding rule of law, freedom of expression and human rights.”

Sun is serving a life sentence at Beijing Prison No. 2. His wife denies Sun had any contact with Taiwanese and says her husband’s confession was obtained under duress.

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday reported that Chinese records of Sun’s confession showed him admitting to being recruited by the Military Intelligence Bureau by his employer, Beijing Wanjia Cultural Exchange Co.

Chinese prosecutors allege Sun, who they claim went by the code name Li Qiang, was paid 500,000 yuan (US$76,000).

“My target was … information of the China mainland with regard to the fields of political and military situation,” the Herald quoted Sun as reportedly telling investigators.

“In September 2002 I came back to China to meet my friend Yang Delong … I persuaded him into providing military information to me by the pretext that Taiwan’s money is easy to get,” the records showed.

The statement alleges Sun confessed to providing Yang with a digital camera, memory card, notebook computer, encryption software and other material and to teaching him how to encrypt documents, the Herald reported.

Relatives of Yang, who was also taken into custody and whose statement was used to incriminate Sun, claim that by the time he showed up in court he had lost all his teeth, likely the result of harsh interrogation techniques.

His whereabouts are unknown, though as a serving officer, he is likely to have received the death penalty, the paper said.