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Beijing’s security agents have cracked down on “hundreds” of spying cases linked to Taiwan and arrested “a batch of Taiwanese spies and their accomplices”, according to China’s CCTV.
On Monday night the state-run channel aired a purported confession by Cheng Yu-chin, a man it identified as an aide to a former chief of Taiwan’s ruling party.
The report alleged Cheng was recruited by Taiwanese intelligence while living in the Czech Republic and added that he was arrested in April last year in China.
Another Taiwanese man, Lee Meng-chu, appeared Sunday in a CCTV programme saying he had filmed military exercises on the mainland last year.
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang rejected the spy claims as a smear campaign.
“China is an authoritarian country and always does such things to infiltrate and sabotage,” Su told reporters.
“They are doing it themselves, so they think others are doing it… China doesn’t have to be so paranoid.”
Taiwan’s foreign ministry described the spying allegations against Cheng as “deliberately made up with ulterior motives and a violation of basic human rights”, noting the academic had been a vocal supporter of Chinese investment in the Czech Republic.
The CCTV report said Cheng was arrested in April 2019, but his appearance on TV comes weeks after a visit to Taiwan by a group of Czech politicians which infuriated Beijing.
The report alleged he had been collaborating with “Taiwanese spy units” since 2005.
Lee was detained in August last year in Shenzhen and has been held incommunicado since.
Beijing regards democratic Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize the self-ruled island.
Relations have plunged in recent years following the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen who regards the island as a de facto sovereign nation and not part of Beijing’s “one China”.
Beijing has cut off official communication with Tsai’s government and ramped up the military, economic and diplomatic pressure on the island.
Chinese warplanes have entered Taiwan’s air defence zone nine times this month alone.
Multiple Taiwanese nationals have disappeared into Chinese custody accused of various anti-state crimes in cases that have caused an outcry at home.
Authoritarian China’s judicial system is notoriously opaque and answers to the Communist Party. Rights groups say forced and televised confessions are commonplace.