Fri, Jun 03, 2005 - Page 3 News List

MAC denies that detained journalist spied for Taiwan

BLOOMBERG

Ching Cheong (程翔), a Hong Kong-based reporter jailed by China on spy charges, isn't an agent for Taiwan's government, a Mainland Affairs Council official said.

"The whole thing doesn't have anything to do with Taiwan," council Vice Chairman Michael You (游盈隆) said by phone yesterday. "We learned about it from media reports."

China's foreign ministry said on May 31 that Ching, a reporter for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, was arrested for working for "foreign intelligence agencies and accepted large amounts of spying fees."

The Hong Kong-based Standard newspaper said on Wednesday that China appears to imply that Ching works for Taiwan.

China's foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment on You's statement at a regular press briefing on Wednesday in Beijing, saying only journalists working in China are responsible for knowing its laws.

"The journalists must have professional ethics and standards, and that includes knowing China's laws on national secrets," ministry spokesman Kong Quan (孔泉) said. "Anyone who violates the law will be punished."

Kong said there are 480 accredited foreign journalists working in China, and the country hosts more than 5,000 visiting journalists a year.

"China welcomes all journalists, even those who do not write good news about China," Kong said. "But we do not tolerate those who break the law."

China, with 42 journalists in prison as of Dec. 31, was the leading jailer of journalists for a sixth straight year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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