A Taiwanese academic has been jailed for four years in China over alleged spying, local media reported on Wednesday.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Tony Shih was sentenced for “espionage” by a district court in China’s Anhui province, according to the Taiwan News website.

Shih, 56, who retired as an associate professor from the National Taiwan Normal University, remained detained in Beijing for alleged involvement in “criminal activities jeopardizing China’s national security” since August 2018.

The Chinese authorities aired his “confession” on state television in mid-October in which Shih “admitted” that he “collected intelligence for the Taiwanese government for years.”

Shih was a known China-friendly Taiwanese academic.

Three other Taiwanese “spies” also “confessed.” They include local government adviser Lee Meng-chu, academic Cheng Yu-chin, and Tsai Chin-shu, chairman of the South Taiwan Cross-Strait Relations Association.

China claims Taiwan as a “breakaway province,” however, Taipei insists on being independent since 1949, and has established diplomatic relations with at least 16 countries and regions.

Of late, the US administration under President Donald Trump focused on strengthening bilateral relations with Taiwan, which resulted in further deterioration of ties between Beijing and Washington.

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