Thu, Nov 16, 2006 - Page 2 News List

China confirms arrests of Taiwan businessmen

OSTRICH POLICY The Mainland Affairs Council yesterday said that it hasn't been notified of the arrests of two local businessmen on spying charges, and had no comment

STAFF WRITER , WITH AGENCIES

China said it detained two Taiwanese businessmen on espionage charges, three months after it confirmed it had executed a high-ranking Chinese pension fund official for spying for Taiwan.

"This incident [the arrest] is true. The mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits [ARATS] has informed the relatives of the persons concerned," Li Weiyi (李維一), spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said in a regular briefing yesterday.

ARATS is a semiofficial organization set up by Chinese authorities to handle exchanges between Taiwan and China.

The businessmen are based in the southern province of Hunan, Li said.

Li did not say why the two men were arrested or give other details, but Taiwanese and Hong Kong media have reported in recent weeks that Chinese authorities arrested them in Hunan Province for allegedly spying for Taiwan's military.

According to the news reports, both men were from Taoyuan County and were detained on Sept. 7.

They were being held separately in detention centers in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan, and in the southern city of Guangzhou, the reports said.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday it hasn't been notified of the arrests, which follows the detention by China of two colonels from Taiwan's military intelligence service in May.

MAC spokeswoman Corinna Wei (魏淑娟) said the council was unaware of the matter and had no comment.

"We haven't got any information on this, and relatives of the persons involved haven't contacted us either," MAC Vice Chairman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) added. "We'll help the relatives if they ask for our assistance."

China in August confirmed the execution of Tong Daning, the highest-ranking Chinese official to be punished for espionage since 1999, according to military analysts.

Tong, who helped manage China's US$26 billion pension fund, was executed on April 21 after the Beijing Intermediate Court found him guilty of spying for Taiwan.

Tong's execution was the first since China's military put an army general and colonel to death in 1999 after they were caught selling details of the locations of China's missiles to Taiwan's intelligence service for an estimated US$1.6 million.

Espionage between China and Taiwan comes even as it has been revealed that Taiwanese firms have invested a larger-than-expected US$150 billion in China since the 1980s, according to a June 20 report by the Mainland Affairs Council.

About 1 million Taiwanese are estimated to live and work in China, operating businesses from restaurants and hotels to semiconductor manufacturing factories and textile mills.

Additional reporting by Max Hirsch

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