Chinese espionage at military bases increasing

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Nov 11, 2015 - Page 1

Military officials said China has stepped up espionage around Taiwan’s sensitive defense installations in recent weeks, with Chinese intelligence operatives posing as tourists to take photographs and gather information at Jioupeng Military Base (九鵬基地) in the south.

The latest incident occurred on Friday last week, the day before the meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore, when a Chinese tourist was stopped from taking closeup pictures of technical staff and officers in uniform at several restaurants just outside of Jioupeng Military Base, which is on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Pingtung County’s Manzhou Township (滿州).

A military official who requested anonymity said there were numerous incidents of suspected espionage activities around Jioupeng, a base that houses the nation’s most advanced guided missiles and a vital installation for missile test-fire launches, by Chinese who were taking photographs in the area, some carrying sophisticated cameras and photography equipment.

The timing of their activities was judged to be too much of a coincidence, because the technical and operational staff at the Jioupeng base were busy conducting various scheduled missile firing and flight tests from Oct. 21 to Friday, with two daily sessions in the morning and in the afternoon, the military official said.

In light of Xi’s remark in Singapore that more than 1,000 missiles in China’s southeast provinces were not aimed at Taiwan, the official said: “It is appalling that China is playing a two-faced tactic to deceive us. Chinese officials said they want to reduce cross-strait hostilities, but they are actively spying on our most important missile base.”

“Opening up our nation’s tourism to independent travelers from China has caused too much trouble for our military installations,” he said.

The Chinese man in Friday’s incident spoke with a Cantonese accent and said he was an independent tourist traveling around Taiwan when questioned by military officers after taking pictures of uniformed personnel.

The officers found he had taken many close-up photographs, including ones of name tags, of technical staff and military officers from the base. He was forced to delete those pictures, then released.

In the first week of this month, a local resident reported to authorities that an unidentified person carrying sophisticated photography equipment had driven to a hill opposite the Jioupeng base and pointed his camera at base installations.

When local police arrived in their cruiser, the man sped off.

There were also incidents reported of Chinese tourists “playing” with drones that have cameras on them outside the Jioupeng base last month.