Taiwanese Veterans Recruited as Chinese Spies

Taiwanese Veterans Recruited as Chinese Spies
Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像
What you need to know

A Taiwanese army veteran has been giving confidential military information to Beijing’s spies while on business trips to China. Although the security breach is not major, authorities say the Chinese appear to be using new espionage tactics.

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A Taiwanese army veteran who gave confidential military information to China over the past year is being held in custody. The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office has arrested the veteran and five other people whom the veteran allegedly paid to offer information. All were charged for violating the National Security Act.

The court gave prosecutors permission to detain the army veteran, surnamed Chuang, while granting NT$20,000 to NT$40,000 bail for four of the suspects and releasing one.

Chuang, 33, was a soldier before he went to China to do business. In April 2015, he was contacted by a Chinese agent via Skype. He was invited to travel around China and the agent later recruited him to conduct espionage in exchange for money.

The Military Police in Pingtung found that Chuang engaged three army veterans to join him last year and recruited an active soldier in April this year.

From May 2015 through June this year, the group collected confidential intelligence information and uploaded it to encrypted online cloud drives provided by the Chinese agents. The group received more than NT$1 million for the material.

After being tipped by the Pingtung Military Police, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office launched an investigation. On July 6, it found electronic storage disks and documents containing secret intelligence at locations in several southern cities, including Kaohsiung, Pingtung and Tainan.

Prosecutors say that as the military rank of the accused men is not high, the Chinese are unlikely to have acquired highly sensitive intelligence.

Investigators nevertheless believe that the case reveals a new approach in China’s espionage tactics. Traditionally, China typically recruited high-ranking military officers for espionage purposes. This was seen as high risk and more expensive, and those involved on the Taiwanese side often had to hide in Europe or Australia to avoid detection and arrest.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang