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Thursday, November 16, 2006

China Arrests 2 Taiwan Businessmen on Spying Charges

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- China said it detained two Taiwan businessmen on espionage charges, three months after it confirmed it executed a high-ranking Chinese pension fund official for spying for the island.

``The mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits has informed the relatives of the persons concerned,'' Li Weiyi, a spokesman for the Beijing-based China Taiwan Affairs Office, said in a regular briefing today. The businessmen are based in China's southern province of Hunan, Li said. He didn't name the men or say what type of business they are involved in.

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 $26 billion pension fund, was executed on April 21 after the Beijing Intermediate Court found him guilty of spying for Taiwan, Andrew Yang, secretary general of the Chinese Council for Advanced Policy Studies, said Aug. 8.

The 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 $1.6 million.

China arrested two colonels of Taiwan's military intelligence service in May, setting back the Taiwanese spy network on the mainland. The governments of China and Taiwan, administered separately since the end of a 10-year civil war in 1949, has been diplomatic and political foes for half a century, bickering over their claims of sovereignty.

Taiwan-China Ties

Espionage between China and Taiwan comes even as the island's residents have invested a larger-than-expected $150 billion on the mainland since the 1980s, according to a June 20 estimate by Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian.

China and Hong Kong are Taiwan's biggest export markets. Taiwan's goods are shipped to China through Hong Kong because of restrictions on trade and transportation between Taiwan and mainland China.

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.
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