A former Taiwanese air force officer has been sentenced to life in prison for spying for China, adding to a pile of spying scandals in recent years.

On Friday, Taiwan's supreme court convicted Yuan Hsiao-feng, lieutenant colonel, on 12 accounts of leaking confidential military information to China between 2003 and 2007 and imposed a fine of Tw$7.8 million ($260,000) on Yuan - the amount of payment he collected for passing the secrets.

Chen Wen-jen, a retired colleague of Yuan, recieved a 20-year jail term for his involvement in the case.

Yuan handed the secrets to China via Chen, who was recruited by Beijing after he went there to do business.

The duo have been detained since 2012 when they failed to recruit two junior colleagues, who turned them in to the authorities instead.

Spying scandals

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 espionage scandals in recent years, reflecting the fact that intelligence gathering has continued despite warming ties with China under current 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 ex-lieutenant general was indicted for leaking secrets to Beijing.

In 2011, an army general and chief of an intelligence unit was sentenced to life for spying for China in one of Taiwan's worst espionage scandals.

Source: AFP