2 Taiwan ex-officers jailed for recruiting spies for China

TAIPEI (AFP) - A Taiwanese court on Friday sentenced two former officers to ten months in prison for helping to recruit spies for China.

Ex-navy lieutenant Chien Ching-kuo was convicted of violating the national security law along with Lu Chun-chun.

Lu recruited Chien to join the Chinese Communist Party with a paid overseas trip and cash gifts in 2009, said the Kaohsiung district court in southern Taiwan.

According to the court, the pair had arranged for several officers to go on overseas tours paid by Chinese officials in a bid to recruit them to spy for Beijing.

This included a former commander in charge of political warfare at the navy's meteorology and oceanography office, who agreed to collaborate.

Chien was discharged by the navy in 2009, while Lu retired from the military's missile command centre in 2005.

Lu's sentence was suspended for three years on the ground that he has no prior criminal record, the court said.

In a separate trial, Chien was sentenced to three years in prison last year for leaking confidential military information to China, including some of Taiwan's warship deployments and missions.

Taiwan has been hit by a string of spy scandals in recent years.

Last month, the supreme court sentenced a former air force lieutenant colonel to life in prison for spying for China.

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.

Intelligence gathering has continued despite warming ties with China under the island's current Beijing-friendly government.

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.

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