Kuo Tai-shen (郭台生), a Taiwan-born naturalized US citizen and a member of a prominent Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) family, on Tuesday pleaded guilty in a US federal court in Virginia to spying for China on US military sales to Taiwan, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment
Kuo, whose father-in-law is General Xue Yue (薛岳), a long-time a key adviser to dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), admitted in an appearance before US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema to having bought secret information on US arms sales to Taiwan from a highly placed US defense official and delivering it to a Chinese military official at the behest of Beijing.
The information centered on Taiwan’s “Po Sheng” air defense system intended to ward off attacks from China, as well as information on the US’ planned five-year arms sales program to Taiwan.
While Taiwan’s defense ministry said in the wake of the original reports of Kuo’s arrest that his activities did not compromise the Po Sheng system, US Justice Department information indicates that all the damaging information on the system that China might need had been delivered to Beijing before Kuo’s arrest.
The US agency arrested Kuo, 58, in February, along with Gregg Bergersen, an official with the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the organization that arranges US arms sales to other countries, including Taiwan.
Bergersen, who recently pleaded guilty to a related charge and quit the agency, was in charge of the DSCA’s section that controlled the sale of the key communications programs that enable modern militaries to operate.
These are the so-called C4ISR capabilities (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) — in short, virtually everything aside from hardware and human resources that makes a military structure operate.
That information could also tip off China about joint Taiwan-US military plans and procedures aimed at coordinating operations against an attack on Taiwan, which would have an impact on US national security, as well as the defense of Taiwan against a Chinese military attack, information revealed by the court showed.
Before the espionage case came to light, various C4ISR pages in the DSCA Web site referred interested people to Bergersen as the agency’s leading expert in the field.
Kuo remains behind bars in a northern Virginia suburb detention center pending sentencing on Aug. 8. Bergersen is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.
Bergersen faces a maximum sentence of 10 years on the charge of giving secret information to a person not entitled to receive it.
Bergersen’s lawyers argued that he believed the information he gave to Kuo was meant for Taiwanese military officials.
A Justice Department fact sheet said that Kuo told Bergersen that if he supplied him with information, Kuo would give him a well-paid job with a company Kuo said he planned to start in order to sell US defense items to Taiwan.
“If you help me in the next 10 to 15 years [when Bergersen planned to retire] ... you can ... get paid two, three-hundred thousand [US dollars] a year in my company,” Kuo was recorded by US authorities as saying.
US documents released at the trial said Bergersen had earlier asked Kuo to introduce him to Taiwanese military officials in Washington, a request that Kuo apparently never fulfilled.