Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 2 News List

`Spy' gets prison sentence in China

REUTERS , BEIJING

A Chinese court has sentenced a Taiwanese national and a Chinese television advertising executive to prison sentences of up to 11 years for spying, a court official said yesterday.

The People's Intermediate Court in Anqing, Anhui Province, on April 23 sentenced Taiwanese national Chang Hsin-min (張新民) to 10 years in prison on espionage charges, judge Liu Feng said.

Li Qingsheng (李慶生), former advertising assistant manager of the television network owned by the Anqing city government, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, the judge said. Both men have appealed their sentences.

China News Service reported the case late on Wednesday. China's official Xinhua news agency reported the convictions yesterday.

The court ordered the seizure of assets worth 50,000 yuan (US$6,000) each, reports said.

Li, 47, was convicted of collecting political and military intelligence for Taiwan over the course of 10 years, news reports said. He is alleged to have visited Taiwan three times between 1994 and 1997, and to have joined the Taiwanese military's Intelligence Bureau, earning a monthly salary of US$400.

He is alleged to have received espionage training and equipment and to have been paid US$20,000 for providing classified documents to Chang, 34, who traveled to China frequently.

China has rounded up at least 26 people for spying for Taiwan since December.

A group of Taiwanese businessmen was paraded in front of reporters in January in an unprecedented display apparently aimed at embarrassing Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in the run-up to the nation's presidential election.

Tension has been simmering since the elections, which Chen won by a small margin. Chen is reviled by Beijing for his stance on Taiwanese identity and sovereignty.

Despite the military and political rivalry between China and Taiwan, bilateral trade, investment and civilian exchanges have boomed since the late 1980s.

In the biggest espionage scandal of China's Communist era, a Chinese general and a colonel were executed in 1999 for spying for Taiwan.

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