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Taiwan says China’s new spy allegation is false news

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan has labeled new espionage allegations from China as fake news after Chinese state television broadcast a program showing a Taiwanese academic arrested in China for national security reasons amid rising Taipei-Beijing tensions.

China claims democratic Taiwan is its territory and in recent weeks has increased military activity near the island, including fighter jets flying over the sensitive midline of the Taiwan Strait.

Late Monday, for the second night in a row, Chinese state television showed a Taiwanese person they said had confessed to spying, an academic named Cheng Yu-chin who had previously taught in the Czech Republic.

The report said Cheng had previously worked as an assistant to Cho Jung-tai, once chairman of the Progressive Democratic Party (DPP) in Taiwan, and showed Cheng on camera admitting that he knew his actions were “harmful” to China.

Cheng was arrested in China in April last year, the report added.

However both Cho and the DPP said Cheng had never worked for him. Cho, in a statement on his Facebook page, said he did not even know Cheng.

“This news is definitely wrong reporting,” Cho added.

Taiwan’s Continental Affairs Council said in a separate statement that neither they nor the Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official body dealing with some relations with China, had approached any family member for help.

The council condemned China for putting Cheng on television to make a confession and said China was playing politics by trying to bring in people for espionage.

It was not possible to reach Cheng for comment or determine if he was allowed to receive legal representation.

Rights groups and Western governments have expressed anger at China over previous cases where suspects have been placed on state television to confess before their trials.

Late Sunday, Chinese state television broadcast another alleged story from what they said was a Taiwanese spy who had gone to Hong Kong to support anti-government protesters and secretly filmed Chinese security forces across the border.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Editing by Michael Perry)

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