Wed, Dec 24, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Military denies spy arrest story

CONSPIRACY?Military intelligence denied that Taiwanese spies had been arrested on the mainland, slamming local media for hyping pro-China sources

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) yesterday reiterated denials that any Taiwanese agents had been arrested in China as a result of information revealed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) concerning China's missile buildup.

The pro-China Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao has reported that China has been able to trace a Taiwanese spy ring after Chen gave details about the number and location of the 496 missiles China has deployed against Taiwan.

Taiwanese businessmen had been arrested, the report said.

The MIB said, however, that no arrests of Taiwan's intelligence workers had been discovered as of yesterday after extensive checking.

The bureau also said in a press release: "The military expresses its regret concerning Taiwanese media's extensive citing of a pro-China newspaper in disseminating unauthenticated information, which has created fear and unease among the people and the families of intelligence agents."

The MIB said since studies regarding China's military development and deployments have become major research topics among governmental, industrial and academic agencies worldwide, the kind of missile information Chen had mentioned could easily be obtained through ordinary channels.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信), director of the DPP's Chinese Affairs Department, yesterday said that since, so far, no intelligence agents were reported missing, he believed the report was an attempt at political manipulation.

Chen referred to Chinese-language newspaper reports about former New Party legislator Elmer Fung (馮滬祥) who said he could confirm the report and showed what he claimed was an arrest notice received by one of the businessmen's family at a press conference he called Monday.

Although Fung, widely characterized as an unofficial spokesman for China in Taiwan, is well connected in Beijing, he has been an unreliable source of information, only this year being successfully sued for libel by the wife of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

Major-General Chen Hu-men (陳虎門), a former intelligence official, however, told the media that, as far as he knew, two or three Taiwanese has been arrested in China recently for suspected spying. Chen said that only when the suspects were convicted would the families receive any notification from China.

Chen Chung-hsin pointed out Chen Hu-men's remarks contradicted Fung's claimed evidence since families are given no notice of arrest, only conviction. He also cast doubts on Chen Hu-men's ability to obtain information on the status of intelligence agents, saying "Chen left the intelligence network years ago."

There was no way he should have access to information about current intelligence operations, the legislator said.

"We strongly suspect that there are people doing political maneuvering behind the incident," he said.

DPP legislator Lai Ching-te (賴清德) yesterday accused the opposition parties of colluding with China to damage President Chen. Lai pointed out the unusual frequent visits, up to five times in the past two months, by the head of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Mainland Affairs Department Chang Rong-kung (張榮恭), which showed the possibility of a coordinated conspiracy.

Lai said that Chang served as a secret envoy representing KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to coordinate opposition to Chen's proposal for a "defensive referendum."

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