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Taiwan passes laws to make Chinese spying punishable by death

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, left, walks past a Taiwan national flag during an offshore anti-terrorism drill outside Taipei harbor in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on May 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

TAIPEI (Kyodo) -- Chinese spies will be subject to Taiwan's newly amended law under which they could face the death penalty, local media reported on Wednesday.

The legislature passed revisions to the penal code on Tuesday to stipulate that spies from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao committing acts of espionage could be punished by life imprisonment or even death.

Until now, Chinese spies have only been given light sentences.

Those include Zhen Xiaojiang, a retired People's Liberation Army captain who was found guilty in September 2015 of setting up a spy ring in Taiwan, but received only a four-year prison sentence for violating the National Security Act.

The legislature also approved amendments to the Classified National Security Information Protection Act on Tuesday to increase the penalty of Taiwanese citizens leaking or handing classified national security information to people from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since Nationalist forces led by Chiang Kai-shek lost a civil war on the mainland to Communist forces under Mao Zedong in 1949. Beijing considers Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

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