Taiwan general jailed in China spy honey trap

TAIPEI - A Taiwanese general lured by a honey trap into spying for China was given a life sentence by a military high court on Monday, in one of the island's worst espionage cases.

Major general Lo Hsien-che, former chief of the army telecommunications and electronic information department, was indicted in May for spying and taking bribes from China beginning in 2004.

"Lo five times offered information to the Chinese communist personnels in exchange for bribes," the defence ministry said in a statement, adding that Lo had confessed during the investigation and trial.

But it did not specify what type of intelligence Lo gathered for Beijing or how much money he pocketed.

Local media said the documents Lo handed over to China included information about the Po Sheng (Broad Victory) system - a command, control and communications network that Taiwan is buying from US defence contractor Lockheed Martin for Tw$46 billion ($1.9 billion).

Lo is allowed to appeal, the ministry said.

He was accused of falling for a honey trap set by a female Chinese agent while stationed in Thailand between 2002 and 2005, according to Taiwanese media reports.

Lo, now 51, reportedly started to collect secrets for her in 2004 in return for about $1 million from China but still managed to pass repeated loyalty checks and gain promotion to major general in 2008.

Taiwan and China have spied on each other ever since they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war. Beijing still regards the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

A retired local agent recently warned that at least 10 Chinese moles were believed to have infiltrated Taiwan's security units.