Wed, Sep 29, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Chinese security chief’s visit kept secret

IN THE SHADOWSChen Zhimin met with officials from the ministries of justice and the interior and MAC, but their names and what they discussed have not been disclosed

By Vincent Y. Chao, Ko Shu-ling  /  J. Michael Cole and Shih Hsiu-chuan /STAFF REPORTERS

A visit to Taiwan by Chinese Vice Minister of Public Security Chen Zhimin (陳智敏) and his delegation earlier this month was shrouded in secrecy and intentionally unpublicized, even as talks were held with senior government officials, an investigation by the Taipei Times showed yesterday.

Chen, who is believed to be the second-highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the nation in the past 12 years in an official capacity, was in Taipei from Sept. 13 through Sept. 18 and met representatives from the Ministry of the Interior, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and the Ministry of Justice.

The Taipei Times has learned that the trip’s organizers, the National Police Agency (NPA) and Chinese authorities, covered up the visit. It was only made public on Monday afternoon, more than a week after it concluded.

An NPA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the talks were secretive, adding that the agency had purposefully played down the delegation’s trip. The official said specific details of the visit would not be made public.

While the source confirmed that the 17 members of Chen’s entourage were above the deputy chief and vice director level, the NPA did not have the authority to release their names.

This could be the first time in the nation’s history that a visit by senior Chinese officials was covered up by Taiwan’s own government agencies.

The NPA released a short statement on the visit on Monday after the Central News Agency and the Chinese state-run China News broke the story.

Hsu Jui-shan (許瑞山), chief administrator of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, which organized the delegation’s itinerary, said the information was withheld because of Chen’s sensitive post, which gave his trip political ramifications.

“We had a tacit understanding with [China] … we weren’t going to release this trip to the media because of the upcoming [November] elections,” he said. “The request [for this] came from China, and as the host, we accepted.”

According to an official account of the trip, Chen, who is also the vice chairman of the Police Association of China, was visiting to promote cross-strait cooperation between police agencies and explore possibilities for greater judicial collaboration.

The NPA statement said an agreement was reached on six points, including an increase in cross-strait police exchanges, more communication on extradition and additional cooperation on security and anti-terrorism.

However, the NPA statement did not mention that Chen also met the vice ministers of justice, top CGA staff and a vice chairperson at MAC, Hsu said.

The exact names of Chen’s contacts could not be confirmed.

It is understood that unlike Chinese Minister of Culture Cai Wu (蔡武), who visited earlier this month under his unofficial title as honorary chairman of the China Friendship Association of Cultural Circles, Chen was here in his official capacity.

Documents from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security show that Chen plays an important role in Beijing’s security apparatus, having held important exchanges with his counterparts in Hong Kong and Macau, a possible reason why he was chosen to lead the delegation to Taiwan.

Last year, he traveled to southern China, where he met with police chiefs from Hong Kong and Macau and promised greater cooperation in training and fighting crime. He has also met previously with the director of MAC’s legal department, Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅).

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