updated 8/19/2005 6:16:21 PM ET 2005-08-19T22:16:21

China has detained an American on suspicion of spying for Beijing’s archrival, Taiwan, the U.S. Embassy said Friday.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Xie Chunren — a Chinese-born American citizen — has been under house arrest since May 31, suspected of “activities harmful to state security.” The ministry did not elaborate.

A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said Xie had been detained “under suspicion of espionage for Taiwan.”

U.S. officials have visited Xie three times in detention and have been in frequent contact with his son in the United States, the spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of embassy policy.

The American consulate in Chengdu was notified June 2 that he had been detained, a U.S. official said in Washington. The official, who also declined to be identified because she was not authorized to speak to the press, added that no information was available on Xie’s condition.

Several Chinese-born businesspeople and academics with U.S. ties have been arrested by China in recent years on espionage charges. Most were accused of working for rival Taiwan.

China and Taiwan split in 1949 amid civil war and are believed to spy actively against each other.

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