CHINA THREAT – Even as it ramps up invasion drills, aerial incursions and other overt military threats, communist China’s spies have also infiltrated Taiwan’s military in a bid to subvert the democratic island republic’s defenses from within, according to a new Reuters special feature report.
This infiltration has been going on for at least the past ten years when relations were more open and less hostile, and has reached senior levels. It appears Taiwan’s spy catchers have become more aggressive about finding them and prosecuting them, and the mood in Taiwan has also now become far less permissive.
But the espionage and subversion threat is extremely worrisome to both Taiwan and its allies.
Reuters reports that:
Taiwan’s spycatchers are battling a sustained Chinese espionage campaign. Beijing’s aim, say former Taiwan and U.S. officers, is to glean details on the island’s defense planning and undermine its leaders. Even the security detail of President Tsai Ing-wen has been compromised.
Using documents from recent prosecutions, Reuters describes “how Beijing allegedly sought out commanders in the Taiwan military and induced them to become spies.” Chinese officials were also able to “extract details of high-tech weapons and gain insights into defense planning.”
In the past decade, at least 21 serving or retired Taiwanese officers with the rank of captain or above have been convicted of spying for China, according to a Reuters review of court records and reports from Taiwan’s official news agencies. At least nine other serving or retired members of the armed forces are currently on trial or being investigated on suspicion of contacts with spies from China, the review shows.
In July, Taiwan’s Mirror Media reported that the island’s former deputy defense minister, General Chang Che-ping, was questioned in a national security investigation.
Defense One summarizes the report:
How it starts: With small gifts, “like drinks or meals.” But it’s that “first piece of secret information” that often yields the highest price, a former naval commander told Reuters. “This payment would later be used to blackmail them into supplying further intelligence at a much lower price, he said.”
How Beijing views Taiwan now: As a “wanderer” that will eventually come home, China’s foreign minister said (via Reuters again) Monday in Beijing. “Taiwan is a wanderer who will eventually come home, not a chess piece to be used by others,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, and added, “China must and will be reunified.”
According to Reuters:
Beijing has even penetrated the security detail assigned to protect Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. A retired presidential security officer and a serving military police lieutenant colonel at the unit tasked with protecting the president had their conviction upheld earlier this year for leaking sensitive information about Tsai’s security to a Chinese intelligence agency.
In a report released in September about the Chinese military, Taiwan’s defense ministry acknowledged that in an attack, agents for China “lurking” on the island could strike at command centers to “decapitate” Taiwan’s military and political leadership and demoralize its armed forces.
Even the discovery of Chinese spies in peacetime is a potentially demoralizing blow to Taiwan.
“The repeated cases of the most senior level of Taiwan armed forces officers being convicted of espionage has got to have a psychological effect on the officer corps and in the ranks,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Grant Newsham.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.