Reporter Accused of Spying for Taiwan Will Learn Today if He Is Convicted
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
BEIJING — The Straits Times reporter who has been detained in China since April 2005, Ching Cheong, will know today if he has been convicted of the charge of spying for Taiwan, according to the spokeswoman of his newspaper’s publisher.
“We were just told by his lawyer that the verdict will be announced tomorrow at 9 a.m.” Beijing time, Carole Chow, said yesterday. Ms. Chow is a spokeswoman of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., which publishes the Straits Times. “We hope for the best outcome.”
Mr. Ching, 56, was put on trial on August 15 at the Beijing Second Intermediate Court on a charge of spying for Taiwan. He is the second foreign journalist to be prosecuted in recent months in China under national security laws, after the New York Times’ researcher Zhao Yan was sentenced to three years in jail.
A Hong Kong resident with a British National Overseas passport, Mr. Ching may have been arrested because he obtained the manuscript of the memoirs of former Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang, his wife Mary Lau, said in a July 21 interview. Ms. Lau could not be reached yesterday to comment.
Mr. Ching confessed that he worked for “foreign intelligence agencies and accepted large amounts of spying fees,” including from Taiwan-based groups, according to a May 2005 statement by China’s Foreign Ministry. Officials at the Foreign Ministry’s press office declined to comment yesterday on Mr. Ching’s court case.
Conviction on the charge of spying may carry a death penalty in China. Officials at Beijing Second Intermediate Court were not available to comment on Mr. Ching’s case.
The New York Times’ Mr. Zhao was sentenced to three years in jail on August 25 for committing fraud. He was acquitted of the charge of breaking China’s national security laws.
Mr. Zhao was arrested on September 17, 2004, after publishing a New York Times article that said a former Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, had offered to give up his position as head of the military. His report was published before China’s state-run press announced Mr. Jiang’s retirement.