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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 10:52 GMT
China jails officials for spying
By Chris Hogg
BBC correspondent in Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Thousands of US dollars are reported to have changed hands
Chinese officials in Hong Kong have confirmed to the BBC that two former colleagues have been jailed after being convicted of spying for Britain.

Wei Pinguan, who worked for Beijing's de-facto embassy in Hong Kong before its 1997 handover to China, has been jailed for life.

Cai Xiaohong, a former secretary-general of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, was jailed for 15 years.

The two men were detained during an operation against spies last year.

Wei Pingyuan was a senior official working for the Chinese government in Hong Kong before the territory was handed back by Britain in 1997.

He is reported to have joined the British Secret Service.

The Chinese Government Liaison Office in Hong Kong told the BBC that Wei would spend the rest of his life in jail after being convicted by a court in the neighbouring province of Guangdong.

His property and possessions have also been confiscated.

Elite

Wei is also said to have had a role in recruiting Cai Xiaohong to spy for Britain.

Cai's job was to process confidential communications between staff at the central government's office in Hong Kong and their political masters in Beijing.

One of the most senior Chinese officials in the territory, he is said to have passed secrets to the British in return for payments of several hundred thousands of US dollars.

Cai is the son of a former justice minister and a member of the country's political elite, and his 15 year jail sentence is lighter than might have been expected for such a crime.

Another official is awaiting sentence.

The British Government says it never comments on such matters.

Analysts have suggested the cases will not have a major effect on relations between Britain and China. These were strained in the run-up to the handover but have improved steadily since.




SEE ALSO:
Chinese official 'spied for West'
18 Dec 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Regions and territories: Hong Kong
26 Oct 04 |  Country profiles


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