CARTOON: Chinese Spies in Taiwan?

CARTOON: Chinese Spies  in Taiwan?
Photo Credit: Stellina Chen

What you need to know

'Compared with eight years ago, it’s likely that Beijing now has a greater need to understand and grasp the current situation of the Taiwanese government.'

Earlier this month, local media in Taiwan speculated the country's national security authorities had estimated about 5,000 individuals are in Taiwan collecting state secrets on behalf of the Chinese government.

In response, an article on Chinese state-owned People’s Daily, says reports of 5,000 Chinese spies in Taiwan are “ridiculous and outrageous accusations,” and the Taiwan government does not have any proof to support its claims.

Sixty cases of Chinese espionage in Taiwan have been uncovered since 2002, with 90 percent of the cases exposed in military institutions and the remaining 10 percent in other government offices. Government officials have said the military’s higher security levels might be the reason for the disparity.

Earlier this month, a former Chinese student, Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭), was detained incommunicado on suspicion of trying to develop a spy ring while enrolled at a Taipei university and attempting to obtain classified information from government officials.

Four Taiwanese army veterans were arrested in July 2016 for passing on confidential military information to China. Investigators believed the case revealed a new approach in China’s espionage tactics.

Tensions in cross-Strait relations have increased since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office last year, and China has cut off official communication channels with Taiwan. Liu Fu-kuo (劉復國), a research associate at the Center for Security Studies at National Chengchi University, told Quartz that though 5,000 spies in Taiwan “seemed exaggerated,” more Chinese spy activity on the island-nation would be natural, given the recent increase in tensions across the Strait.

Liu also said, “Compared with eight years ago, it’s likely that Beijing now has a greater need to understand and grasp the current situation of the Taiwanese government.”

TNL_Spy
Photo Credit: Stellina Chen

Editor: Olivia Yang


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