Scholars have different views on Chinese spy case ruling

2017/09/15 17:30:33 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭)

Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭)

Taipei, Sept. 15 (CNA) A scholar urged the government Friday to show goodwill toward a Chinese spy, to ease cross-Taiwan Strait tension after a ruling that day that sentenced a Chinese national to 14 months in prison for violating the National Security Act.

The Taipei District Court sentenced Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭), a 29-year old Chinese national who studied in an MBA program in Taipei of attempting to bribe a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in exchange for classified information. The sentence can be appealed.

The ruling came at a sensitive time in the wake of a Monday court hearing in China of Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who pleaded guilty to the charge of subversion of state power, six months after his arrest.

Asked to comment, Chieh Chung (揭仲), a senior assistant research fellow at the National Policy Foundation, a Taiwan-based think tank affiliated with the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), called on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to use the opportunity to show goodwill to Beijing amid cross-strait tension.

Chieh said the ruling is relatively lenient, since Zhou is not in the military and his attempt was unsuccessful. In accordance with relevant laws, Chieh said Zhou should be given parole after serving half of his sentence.

"Zhou has already been detained since March, meaning that he may only have to serve a few months in prison before filing for parole," Chieh noted.

"The government could make use of the opportunity to deport Zhou back to China after releasing him on parole as a gesture of goodwill to the Chinese government," he said. The case has already seriously impacted cross-strait academic exchanges for several months, the scholar said.

The move could signify that the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration is willing to resume cross-strait exchanges, he added. The showing of goodwill may also facilitate Lee's prompt release, he added.

Zhou came to Taiwan five years ago as a student enrolled in a National Chengchi University MBA program, after which he briefly returned to China in August of last year before returning as a management investor.

He was detained incommunicado in March after the official he attempted to bribe informed the authorities of his actions, and he was indicted in July.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen (董立文), told CNA that he thinks the spy case has nothing to do with Lee's arrest in China, although some believe the Lee case is a retaliatory move following Zhou's arrest in Taipei.

"Unlike Zhou, Lee was not arrested on espionage charges," Tung pointed out. He said the Zhou case will have little impact on the big picture of cross-strait relations.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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