Officers from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) will no longer be sent “behind enemy lines” in China to collect intelligence, sources are saying, which, if true, could undermine Taiwan’s ability to understand developments in China.
Citing unnamed sources in intelligence circles, the Chinese--language China Times reported last week that under new directives issued to the military spy agency, the bureau would no longer be allowed to send its agents to China or direct Taiwanese businesspeople based there to collect classified information or develop spy networks.
According to the article, the MIB will be barred from breaking laws and regulations in China and will limit itself to using networks that are already in place to collect information from open sources such as journals, books, newspapers and academic papers.
Meanwhile, its collection of classified information and human intelligence on China will focus on overseas Chinese or Chinese who visit Taiwan on a regular basis.
Amid the government’s restructuring efforts, the bureau has been streamlined to cover six areas of responsibility, namely: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Europe, electronic intelligence and administration.
Similar directives appear to have been issued to the National Security Bureau (NSB), the nation’s principal civilian spy agency.
According to the China Times, NSB officers will cease cooperating with allies in Southeast Asia in monitoring Chinese vessels passing through the Strait of Malacca and could curtail efforts to conduct “backdoor” communications intercepts inside China via India.
In addition, an unidentified country in Central America has also approached the NSB and offered to monitor and collect intelligence from China’s representative office in that country for the Taiwanese government, provided that the NSB was willing to provide the funding needed for the operation. The bureau turned down the offer after thorough consideration.
According to an anonymous source familiar with Taiwan’s intelligence collection operations, China’s representative offices in various countries have always been vital channels through which the Taiwanese government obtained intelligence, as their security measures on classified documentations were less stringent than those seen within the Chinese government.
“In the past, we [the Taiwanese government] would normally not turn down such ‘paid service’ for intelligence collection due to the adequate funding earmarked for such purposes and China’s apparent efforts to poach our country’s diplomatic allies in Central America,” the source said.
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major-General David Lo (羅紹和) told the Taipei Times yesterday that the ministry does not comment on intelligence matters.
Such directives, which could not be independently confirmed, would occur as Beijing increases pressure on the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to engage in political talks and sign a peace accord. Although a drawdown of aggressive intelligence collection in China could send signals of goodwill to Beijing, it should be noted that intelligence agencies rarely discuss their means of collection or the true nature of their operations.
Among other restructuring plans, the MIB’s information operations will now fall directly under General Staff Headquarters rather than the NSB, with the unit in charge of communications intercepts in China being annexed to the ministry’s Communications Development Office, the China Times said, adding that the unit had moved to Sindian District (新店), New Taipei City (新北市).
An unnamed military source said that the MIB’s human resource and intelligence operations would no longer be overseen by the NSB director, as is the case at present.
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Two US senators were critical of the WHO after a senior WHO official appeared to hang up on a Hong Kong reporter who asked about Taiwan’s membership status in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. During a video interview with Radio Television Hong Kong’s Yvonne Tong (唐若韞) on Saturday, WHO Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward first claimed not to have heard her question on whether the WHO would consider giving Taiwan membership. When Tong repeated the question, he asked her to “move on to another one.” The video then showed the line disconnecting after Tong said she would like to hear more about Taiwan.