Sat, May 24, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Ministry confirms scientist’s defection

REMOTE RISK?The former leader of the nation’s remote sensing research center, who now works for China, was not involved in sensitive projects, the government said

By Chiu Yi-tung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Remote sensing scientist Chen Kun-shan, former head of the Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research at National Central University, points to a satellite photograph on March 30, 2011.

Photo: Hsieh Wen-hua, Taipei Times

Remote sensing scientist Chen Kun-shan (陳錕山) was not involved in any sensitive research projects in Taiwan before he defected to China, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.

Chen, head of the Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research at National Central University (NCU) since 2001, disappeared in September last year. He is now working at China’s State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science under Beijing’s high-profile “Thousand Talents Program,” which seeks to attract overseas scientists.

In a front-page story yesterday, the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) cited an intelligence source as saying that Chen’s defection posed a “serious threat” to Taiwan’s national security.

As head of the center, Chen had access to satellite images covering Taiwan and China’s military deployments, and was in a category of government employees with access to state secrets and restricted from visiting China, the report said.

However, Ministry of Defense spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) yesterday said that Chen had undertaken research projects commissioned by the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST, 中山科學研究院) and the ministry’s Communications Development Office, all of which were academic in nature and unrelated to key military technologies.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Education Secretary-General Wang Tsuo-tai (王作台) said that Chen was suspended by the university in November last year, two months after he went absent without leave.

Wang said the university learned through Chinese media reports in March that Chen had been hired to work at State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science.

The reports were later verified with Beijing through the Mainland Affairs Council, he added.

The university confirmed yesterday that it had decided on April 7 to dismiss Chen and had submitted his case to the Ministry of Education for final approval.

Kainan University vice president David Huang (黃適卓) yesterday lambasted Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧), accusing the education ministry of failing to implement proper preventive mechanisms on cross-strait academic interaction.

Huang said Chiang should take full responsibility for what he described as a “national security fiasco” and step down, as Chuang had been instrumental in promoting the disloyal Chen to his position at the NCU center.

Huang said China has long coveted Taiwanese technology and has been using the guise of academic interaction to implement its “united front” rhetoric.

Huang said that China is still absorbing what it can of Taiwan’s academic research, especially in nanotechnology, agricultural sciences and husbandry, and information technology, in which Taiwan has made significant advances.

Cooperation between academia and the military has a long history, and many military projects have sought the participation of educators, Huang said, adding that these professors have been targeted by Chinese intelligence for contact.

Before both sides of the Taiwan Strait agreed to academic exchanges, contacting Taiwanese academics had been the job of Taiwanese businesspeople in China, Huang said, adding that after academic exchanges were approved, China has used that channel to contact educators directly.

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