Taiwan air force major charged with spying for China

Taiwan air force major charged with spying for China

TAIPEI - A Taiwanese air force major and a karaoke bar owner have been charged with leaking military secrets to China, prosecutors said Friday, in the latest espionage case to hit the island.

Major Hau Chih-hsiung, who works at an air base in southern Taiwan, was charged on Thursday with passing confidential information to China through middleman Wan Tsung-lin.

The two men pocketed a total of Tw$1 million (S$42,157) for their activities, prosecutors said.

Wan ran a karaoke club near the air base and befriended Hau there, travelling to China once to hand over information and passing on more secrets through messengers three times between 2010 and 2013, Taiwan's Liberty Times newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

The men are charged with selling classified information relating to Taiwan's fleet of US-built early warning aircraft after Hau incurred huge debts from bad business investments, the newspaper said.

Prosecutors declined to confirm what type of military secrets were allegedly handed over to China.

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 self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Taiwan has been rocked by a spate of spying scandals in recent years, despite warming ties with China under Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou.

In September 2013, a retired vice admiral was jailed for 14 months for collecting confidential military information for China, just months after an ex-lieutenant general was indicted for leaking secrets to Beijing.

In 2011, an army general and chief of an intelligence unit was sentenced to life for spying for China in one of Taiwan's worst espionage scandals.

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