Cross-Strait Spy Games: Taiwan Charges Chinese Student with Spying

Cross-Strait Spy Games: Taiwan Charges Chinese Student with Spying
Photo Credit: Corbis/達志影像

What you need to know

National Security Bureau director-general Peng Sheng-chu said in parliament in March that Chinese espionage is 'more serious than before.'

A Chinese graduate from one of Taiwan's top universities was charged with espionage on Thursday as prosecutors accused him of attempting to recruit spies for Beijing.

The indictment comes as officials warn of growing intelligence threats from China at a time of increasingly frosty ties between Taipei and Beijing.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be brought back into its fold even though Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949.

Relations have worsened since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) came to power last May.

The Taipei District Prosecutors office said Thursday a man surnamed Zhou - who came to Taiwan to study in 2012 -- violated the National Security Act.

Local media identified the man as Zhou Hongxu from Liaoning province in northeastern China, who graduated from the National Chengchi University in Taipei last year.

Prosecutors said Zhou was recruited by a Chinese official he met at an event promoting cross-strait exchanges in Shanghai in July 2014, who asked him to build a spy network in return for remuneration.

Zhou was told to "introduce politicians, officials in the military, police, intelligence and diplomacy units and other influential people in society to Chinese local officials in destinations abroad," they said.

The Chinese government would pick up the tab for any meetings arranged with local Chinese officials, to be held in locations abroad, Zhou was allegedly told.

Zhou then unsuccessfully attempted to recruit a Taiwanese official on multiple occasions between August 2016 and March this year, the prosecutors said.

The unidentified Taiwan official - who may have access to diplomatic documents - was reportedly told he could be paid as much as US$10,000 a quarter if he agreed to work for the Chinese government.

Zhou also said he could arrange for the official to meet with Chinese government representatives in Japan under the pretense of a holiday, according to the prosecutors.

National Security Bureau director-general Peng Sheng-chu said in parliament in March that Chinese espionage is "more serious than before." Local media reports claim that up to 5,000 people may be spying for China in Taiwan.

Taiwan's cabinet is seeking to tighten existing restrictions on travel to China for former high-ranking Taipei officials to "protect national security and interest".

Cross-strait relations have rapidly deteriorated since the inauguration of President Tsai. Beijing has cut all official communication with Taipei.

Read more:
Taiwanese Veterans Recruited as Chinese Spies
US Uses Sensationalized Tale of Espionage on Accused Taiwan-born Spy, Supporters Say


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