TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A Taiwanese court sentenced a man from mainland China to 14 months in prison Friday for attempting to buy state secrets, days after a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist pleaded guilty to subversion charges in China.
Zhou Hongxu was convicted of trying to bribe a Taiwanese foreign ministry official into giving him classified information, Taiwan's official Central News Agency reported. Zhou has been held since March, when the official told authorities about the attempted bribe.
Zhou faced up to five years in prison, but the court handed down a lesser sentence because he had been unsuccessful in convincing the official to hand over the classified information, the agency said.
Zhou, 29, had been a student at Taiwan's prestigious National Chengchi University's MBA program before returning to China and coming back to Taiwan, ostensibly for business.
Communist Party-ruled China claims Taiwan as its own territory and tensions between them have risen since the election of pro-independence Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last year. The sides separated amid civil war in 1949 and China continues to threaten to use military force to gain control over the self-governing island democracy.
The ruling came less than a week after Taiwanese political activist Lee Ming-che told a Chinese court he was guilty of attempting to subvert the power of the state, though supporters said he'd been forced to confess to crimes he didn't commit.
Lee told the court in the central Chinese city of Yueyang that he had "spread articles that maliciously attacked the Communist Party of China, China's existing system and China's government." He said he had also organized people and wrote articles "intended to subvert the state's power."
A verdict has yet to be handed down and it's unclear what Lee's punishment might be.