US citizen sentenced to life in prison for "espionage" in China

US citizen sentenced to life in prison for “espionage” in China

A 78-year-old American, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, has been sentenced in China to life in prison for “espionage”, a local court announced on Monday.

John Shing-wan Leung, also known as Liang Chengyun, “was guilty of espionage and was sentenced to life imprisonment as well as lifetime deprivation of his political rights”, said in a statement from the Intermediate People’s Court of Suzhou (eastern China).

The press release does not mention the precise nature of the facts with which John Shing-wan Leung was accused. The profession and activity of this American citizen in China were also not immediately clear.

Such a heavy sentence aimed at a foreign citizen on this ground is relatively rare in the Asian country. It risks further degrading Sino-American relations, already at their lowest.

Sino-American relations have cooled in recent years due to disagreements on many subjects: the trade imbalance, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur minority or even rivalry in the high technology sector.

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