A top US expert on Asian military affairs said that espionage allegations against General Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲) of Taiwan were “deadly serious” and potentially “very damaging.”
Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, said it was of “utmost importance” that Taiwan and the US “be far better informed of the range of current and future developing threats from China.”
Other sources directly involved with US intelligence — speaking on the strict condition of anonymity — said there was “concern” in Washington over the allegations, but that the case was too sensitive to comment further at this stage.
Fisher said Lo’s arrest was only the latest espionage exposure in a mostly silent “war” extending back for almost four generations.
“General Lo’s case is deadly serious because he was in charge of what was to be Taiwan’s most important force multiplier in the event of war — the ‘Po Sheng’ or ‘Broad Victory’ digital multi-service command, control and intelligence system,” Fisher said.
“Po Sheng was intended to allow Taiwan’s armed forces to transition into the modern age of true joint warfare where different services can cooperate intimately for faster mission success,” he said.
“It is not difficult to see how the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] would view the ability to turn off or take control of Po Sheng as critical to a range of coercive military scenarios that could lead to political capitulation in Taipei before the start of full attack,” Fisher said.
“What if a future Chinese agent in the presidential palace was able to show a future Taiwan president that the PLA, through its control of Po Sheng, was ordering Taiwan’s armed forces into a massacre? The war might end before it even starts,” he said.
Fisher said Lo’s reported disclosure of Taiwanese communication networks and potentially of details regarding US and Taiwan military communications was also “very damaging” and could be much worse if Taipei and Washington “fail to draw the right lessons.”
For both the US and Taiwan, it is of utmost importance to be far better informed of the range of current and future developing threats from China, he said.
The Chinese “dictatorship wants to extinguish democracy in Taiwan far more than it wants to use Taiwan as a military base, though it wants that too,” he said.
“For Americans, a Communist Chinese takeover of Taiwan would unleash a new Cold War from a foe much more deadly and determined than the Soviet Communist Party. But if Washington can ensure the survival of a free Taiwan, the fact of its existence will undermine the legitimacy of the [Chinese] Communist Party regime and create more pressure for its reform,” Fisher said.
“While there may be some in Washington who will hold up General Lo as evidence that Taiwan is too dangerous to defend, too much of a threat to the security of American technology, that would also be a victory for China,” he said.
“The real lesson is that defending freedom is not easy, and never free. We need to be far better in the spy wars and demand the same from Taipei, but we must also increase our support for Taiwan to prove we value their freedom,” Fisher said.