French naval aviation crew members prepare the landing of a Grumman E-2 Hawkeye on the French Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in 2011. A Taiwan air force major was jailed for 20 years Monday with passing to China confidential information related to the E-2K, an improved version of the Grumman Hawkeye early warning aircraft. (Joel Saget / AFP)
TAIPEI — A Taiwan air force major was jailed for 20 years Monday for leaking military secrets to China in the latest espionage case to hit the island.
Hau Chih-hsiung, who had served at an air base in the southern county of Pingtung, was charged last month with passing to China confidential information related to the E-2K, an improved version of the Grumman Hawkeye early warning aircraft.
Hau was convicted by the High Court in the southern city of Kaohsiung. It also passed a 15-year prison term on Wan Tsung-lin, the middleman in Hau’s dealings with China.
Wan had run a karaoke club near the air base, the state Central News Agency said, adding that the pair had pocketed a total of Tw$1 million ($33,300) for their activities.
After the conviction, Hau was immediately stripped of his military status. He has the right to appeal.
Taiwan and China have spied on each other ever since they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war. Beijing still regards the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
Taiwan has been rocked by a spate of spying scandals in recent years, despite warming ties with China under Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou.
In September 2013 a retired vice admiral was jailed for 14 months for collecting confidential military information for China, just months after an former lieutenant general was indicted for leaking secrets to Beijing.
In 2011 an army general and chief of an intelligence unit was sentenced to life imprisonment for spying for China in one of Taiwan’s worst espionage scandals.