TAIPEI: Taiwan has labelled new spying accusations by China as fake news after Chinese state television aired a programme showing a Taiwanese academic arrested in China on national security grounds at a time of heightened Taipei-Beijing tensions.
China claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, and has in recent weeks stepped up military activity near the island, including flying fighter jets over the sensitive mid-line 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 called Cheng Yu-chin who had previously taught in the Czech Republic.
The report said Cheng had formerly worked as an assistant to Cho Jung-tai, once chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and showed Cheng on camera admitting that he knew his actions were “harmful” to China.
Cheng was arrested in China in April of 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 didn’t even know Cheng.
“This news is obviously wrong reporting,” Cho added.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a separate statement that neither they nor the Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official body that handles some relations with China, had been approached by any family members to request help.
The council condemned China for putting Cheng on television to make a confession, and said China was playing politics by trying to frame people for spying.
It was not possible to reach Cheng for comment or determine whether he has been allowed to engage legal representation.
Rights groups and western governments have expressed anger at China for previous instances where suspects have been put on state television to confess before their trials.
Late Sunday, Chinese state television aired another supposed confession by 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.