Government offices lack credible information security and are vulnerable to Chinese espionage, an official in the national security establishment said.
Taiwan’s national security authorities estimate that about 5,000 individuals are collecting state secrets in Taiwan on behalf of the Chinese government, and the nation’s civilian administration is no less vulnerable or compromised than its military, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Although 80 percent of all detected incidents of Chinese espionage targeted the military, leaving just 20 percent aimed at the civilian government, the disparity was likely due to the military’s higher detection rate, as it has counterintelligence capabilities that are absent from the government’s administrative offices, the official said.
Taiwanese authorities have uncovered 60 espionage plots since 2002. Eighteen were discovered before August 2009, when mail, commerce and travel channels were opened between Taiwan and China, while 42 have been recorded since then, according to reports.
Detected Chinese espionage operations represent only the tip of the iceberg, the official said.
In addition to military and national security apparatuses, Chinese intelligence operatives have infiltrated the administrative offices of the civilian government, the official said.
Such offices are primary targets, as they are capable of providing sensitive information regarding technological research and development, diplomatic policies and cross-strait affairs, the official said.
The official cited the detention last week of Chinese former student Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭) on suspicion of espionage as evidence that Chinese agents have compromised government offices.
Zhou allegedly attempted to “recruit Taiwanese officials working in ministry or department-level organizations in the central government on a long-term basis,” and confidential information entrusted to multiple governmental agencies and employees of educational institutions has been compromised, the official said, citing knowledge of the investigation.
“The main issue for governmental administrative offices is that civil servants have low awareness [about espionage] and the offices lack their own information security systems to protect them from communist spies, beyond the ‘ethics units’ putting in double shifts. As they have no mechanisms for reporting suspected espionage attempts, the risk of vulnerable civil servants being turned or compromised is substantial,” the official said.
Chinese espionage is not limited to attempts to infiltrate the central government, the official said, adding that Beijing’s agents have exploited cross-strait exchange channels to approach and cultivate specific individuals of Aboriginal descent for recruitment as assets or agents.
The high-profile espionage case of Presidential Office employee Wang Jen-bin (王仁炳) in 2009, who was later convicted of espionage, was one of the incidents of Chinese infiltration of the civilian government, the official said.
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten