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Taiwanese general accused of spying

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The Taiwanese government has arrested an army general Wednesday on spying charges. The defence ministry said the general was providing military secrets to China and may have compromised a military communications network that uses US technology.


REUTERS - Taiwan has arrested a senior military officer accused of spying for rival China, the island's defence authorities said on Wednesday, warning citizens to beware of the mainland despite warming ties between the two sides.

The 51-year-old officer, Major-General Lo Hsien-che, is accused of collecting intelligence for Beijing for at least six years and is believed to be the highest-ranking Taiwanese military official accused of espionage for China.

The arrest has underscored the persistent distrust and military tensions between Taipei and Beijing despite warming economic ties as China's rapid economic growth has become increasingly important to Taiwan's fortunes.

China calls the self-ruled island an illegitimate breakaway province that must reunify with the mainland.

"At the end of October last year, or 2010, the defence ministry and national security departments cooperated to obtain leads and held investigations. We requested the military court prosecutor to investigate on his (Lo) spying actions," Wang Ming-wo, deputy bureau chief of the Military Political Warfare Bureau, told a news briefing in Taiwan's capital, Taipei.

"General Lo Hsien-che was posted overseas from 2002 to 2005, and the case of his spying for China began during the period. He was not posted in the United States as stated in some media reports. He was recruited by China in 2004," said Wang.

Taiwan's defence ministry said the island's citizens should be cautious about China's intentions, even with the warming of cross-strait economic ties.

China's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office could not be immediately reached for comment about the case.

Beijing claims sovereignty over democratically-governed Taiwan, which was taken over in 1949 by Nationalist (KMT) forces who fled there from victorious Communist forces who took control of the mainland.

Since the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's President in 2008, he has sought to ease tensions with Beijing and expand economic ties, and the two sides have signed trade and transit deals, including increased access for investors. But military wariness remains entrenched.

Last year, China was angered by the United States' decision to proceed with weapons sales to Taiwan, which Washington says it is legally obliged to help defend itself.

In November last year, Taiwan arrested a military intelligence colonel Lo Chi-cheng on suspicion of spying for China, and in 2008 China executed businessman Wo Wei-han over alleged spying for Taiwan.

Beijing has not ruled out using force to bring the island under its control, and Taiwanese officials say Beijing has about 1,900 missiles aimed at the island from the mainland coast, just 160 kilometres (100 miles) away.

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