Taiwan jails Chinese man indicted as Beijing spy

TAIPEI - A Taiwanese district court Tuesday found a Chinese man guilty of recruiting local military officers to spy for Beijing and sentenced him to four years in jail.

Zhen Xiaojiang, who served in China's army, was charged in January with violating national security law along with six Taiwanese military officials.

"The defendant Zhen followed orders from the Chinese Communist army... arranged frequent, long meetings to introduce active and retired officials to mainland military officials," according to a statement posted on the court's website.

"This not only shakes the morale of the national army, but also threatens the development of (Taiwan's) security," it said.

Zhen appeared in Taipei District Court Tuesday along with retired Taiwanese Major General Hsu Nai-chuan, who was sentenced to three years in jail on the same charges.

The two men were handcuffed and returned to custody after the verdict was read out.

The five other Taiwanese military officials were also found guilty but handed much lighter sentences. They were not present in court.

Zhen's lawyer, who declined to give his name, told AFP after the verdict that they would likely appeal as his sentence was "harsh".

Breach of the national security law typically has a maximum sentence of five years in Taiwan, he added.

Prosecutors previously said Zhen had repeatedly visited Taiwan since 2005 using his Hong Kong residential status under the pretext of doing business or sightseeing.

The verdict didn't mention what classified details were leaked to China through Zhen's arrangements.

Taiwanese media earlier reported China obtained information on Taiwan's arms procurement and an ultra-high-frequency radar installation.

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-governing island as part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Zhen isn't the first to be indicted as a Chinese spy. A retired vice-admiral was jailed for 14 months for collecting confidential military information for China.

In 2011 an army general who led an intelligence unit was sentenced to life imprisonment for spying in one of Taiwan's worst espionage scandals.