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Chinese-American Accused of Spying for Taiwan to Stand Trial in China - 2004-07-28


A Chinese-born American citizen will soon go on trial in China, accused of spying for political rival Taiwan. Beijing accuses David Wei Dong of being a Taiwanese operative, a spy collecting diplomatic secrets regarding China, Taiwan and the United States.

China's government controlled media reported Wednesday that Mr. Dong has been spying for Taiwan since 1990 and says most of his activities were allegedly conducted while he lived in the United States.

According to Chinese media David Dong first moved to America in 1986 as a student and became a U.S. citizen in 1995. He was arrested last September as he entered China and is in jail in the southern city of Guangzhou.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman, Camille Purvis, in Beijing said she could only confirm a few basic facts.

"We know that the person was arrested who was an American citizen and we have ongoing visits to see the prisoner and the last visit was conducted on June Fourth," she said.

Chinese newspapers claim 52-year-old David Dong also helped Taiwanese lobbyists court American politicians in Washington. They say he admitted sending expensive gifts to U.S. officials, including rare Taiwanese orchids and a painting worth over $100,000. For his espionage work Mr. Dong supposedly received a quarter million dollar house in the United States and over $3,000 a month in cash.

His arrest follows a string of similar espionage trials over the last year in China. In December Beijing arrested over forty people for spying, including 24 Taiwanese citizens.

China considers Taiwan part of its own territory and has threatened to invade the island if its government declares independence.

The United States considers Taiwan part of 'One China' but has promised to defend the island against any unprovoked attack.

Professor Lee Si-kuen of Taiwan National University says Beijing may be publicizing Mr. Dong's arrest to protest this U.S. support for Taiwan.

"I think the Chinese may choose this time to give message to the United States to the effect that USA should not interfere with Taiwan Strait affair," he said.

There is no word yet on when Mr. Dong will go to trial or what sort of sentence he could be facing.