Life in prison now possible punishment for spies in Taiwan

Minimum prison term for spying raised from 7 to 10 years

Convicted Chinese spy Zhou Hongxu.

Convicted Chinese spy Zhou Hongxu. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Spies could be condemned to serve the rest of their lives in prison following amendments to the National Intelligence Work Act passed by the Legislative Yuan on Friday (Dec. 13).

Due to China’s relentless drive to annex Taiwan, including threats to use military force, Taiwan is sensitive about infiltration by Chinese spies. Earlier in the week, a scheme was uncovered wherein nominal foundations and travel agencies were helping provide potential Chinese visitors with fake letters of invitation.

The new amendments not only stipulate a maximum life sentence but also make sure that no prosecution of any violation of the act will expire, CNA reported. Additionally, the minimum prison sentence for spying has been raised from seven to ten years.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese intelligence agents found guilty of abusing their position could now face fines of up to NT$10 million (US$330,000) under the new legislation, according to the report.

Under the changes, a range of government bodies, such as the Coast Guard, military police, and National Immigration Agency are listed as “intelligence agencies.”

The amendments had been prepared, studied, and discussed for a year before being passed Friday after their third reading, showing the world that Taiwan is serious about the defense of its democratic values, legislators said.