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China jails U.S. businessman

Published Sep. 2, 2005

A naturalized American electric power consultant was declared guilty Thursday of bribery and obtaining secret documents and sentenced to five years in prison.

The consultant, Fong Fuming, 67, of West Orange, N.J., was detained here two years ago when he came to meet executives of an American company that was bidding on a power transmission project.

Fong was born in China and had a career here as an engineer and power official in the province of Zhejiang. In the late 1980s, he moved to the United States, eventually gaining citizenship. He became a director of a consulting firm based in Hong Kong and has worked as an agent for Western companies seeking power-related contracts in China.

On Thursday, after an unusual delay of several months since the original trial proceedings, a Beijing court declared Fong guilty of "illegally obtaining state secrets and bribing state workers," the New China News Agency reported. He received a sentence of five years, with credit for the one and a half years he has already been in custody. The charges relate to project bids in the mid 1990s.

Fong denied offering bribes, according to his lawyers. He has also said that the documents in question, which concerned Chinese electric power plans and contracts, were not labeled "secret" and in many cases were provided by his corporate clients.