Taiwan dismisses latest China spying accusations

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan on Tuesday dismissed new spying allegations by China as a further attempt to smear the government of the self-governing island democracy that Beijing claims as its own territory.

The remarks follow a report Monday night by Chinese broadcaster CCTV featuring a taped confession from a man identified as Cheng Yu-chin, the second such report in as many days.

On Sunday, CCTV broadcast a confession by a man identified as Li Mengju, whose name is also spelled Lee Meng-chu, who like Cheng said he had been working to destabilize China and harm the ruling Communist Party’s reputation.

In the same report, CCTV said security personnel had solved more than 100 spying cases as part of an initiative dubbed Operation Thunder 2020.

Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang called the accusations an attempt by Beijing to “defame and create fear,” while the foreign ministry’s head of European affairs, Johnson Chiang, called the allegations “pure defamation and calumny.”

CCTV’s airing of videoed confessions have prompted lawsuits abroad amid accusations that the accounts were coerced and that the broadcaster is merely a propaganda arm of the Communist Party.

The latest reports come amid increasing Chinese diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan aimed at compelling the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen to recognize Beijing’s claim that the island is a part of Chinese territory. While the sides share strong cultural and economic links, a strong majority of Taiwanese reject any moves toward political union with China, and Tsai was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term this year.

In its report Monday night, CCTV said Cheng had been detained by China’s state security agency, which accused him of using his academic post in the Czech Republic as a cover to collect intelligence, recruit mainland personnel and sow discord between China and other European countries.

Chiang said the report was factually incorrect and had “violated basic human rights.” Any discord in Chinese-Czech relations was a result of China’s aggressive diplomacy and “bullying,” he told reporters at a weekly briefing.

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