Taiwan jails mainland Chinese man on national security charge

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TAIPEI (Reuters) - A Taiwan court on Friday jailed a mainland Chinese man for 14 months for breaching national security laws, following months of strained relations over China’s detention of a national from the self-ruled island.

China, which sees Taiwan as a wayward province to be taken back by force, if necessary, severed official communications last year to pressure President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party traditionally favors independence, to concede its position.

Zhou Hongxu, formerly a student in Taiwan, was charged for seeking to arrange meetings between a Taiwan government official and a Chinese Communist party official outside Taiwan, in return for payment to the Taiwan official, a court document showed.

Zhou “intentionally” jeopardized national security, though the attempt was unsuccessful, the court said in the document released after the verdict.

Zhou, who had met the Chinese official at a 2014 event in Shanghai in 2014, did not plead guilty, his lawyer said, despite a confession during the trial that he later described as having been made in improper circumstances.

He appeared in court on Friday in a calm mood and dressed in dark colors.

The court reduced his sentence, taking into account his confession, and the failure of the bid to breach national security, it said in its statement.

On Monday, a Taiwanese activist, Li Ming-che, confessed in a Chinese court to attempting to subvert the Beijing government, videos of his hearing released by Chinese authorities showed, although his wife refused to recognize the court’s authority.

Li, a community college teacher known for his pro-democracy and rights activism, had gone missing on a trip to mainland China in March.

Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Clarence Fernandez