Fri, Mar 22, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Liu case controversy: Disclosure of intelligence may hurt diplomatic ties

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's diplomatic relations and information-gathering efforts in China and overseas might be damaged by the disclosure of classified data as part of media reports that the National Security Bureau (NSB) set up secret slush funds, officials said yesterday.

"The disclosure may endanger the safety of our intelligence agents," said Chang Jung-feng (張榮豐), Deputy Secretary General of the National Security Council, during the intermission of a legislative committee meeting yesterday.

"Our crisis-management plan focuses on the protection of our international cooperation network, as well as ensuring the safety of our intelligence agents," Chang added.

The National Security Council on Wednesday decided to establish a crisis-management task force in the wake of the media's disclosure of leaked NSB classified documents regarding the use of NSB slush funds.

The reports said that two NSB funds, which totalled NT$3.5 billion, was authorized by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to finance Taiwan's espionage activities across the Strait and to serve as Taiwan's funding mechanism in its diplomatic rivalry with Beijing.

Related reports in Next magazine went so far as to detail the total cost of each covert-funding operation, as well as the names of trading companies in whose accounts the funds for each operation was held.

Taiwan's former ambassador to South Africa Loh I-cheng (陸以正) also admitted on Wednesday that Lee agreed in 1994 to donate US$10 million to South Africa's heavily indebted African National Congress (ANC), in a futile effort to sustain Taipei-Pretoria ties.

Loh also said he had no idea why the leaked NSB document, as reported by the China Times on Wednesday, said the donated amount was NT$11 million.

The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kao (高英茂) said the information that was leaked on Taipei's donation to the ANC could have a "negative impact" on Taiwan's external relations.

"What should have been kept confidential was disclosed. This is indicative of our inability to keep things secret, and how would others dare to deal with us after this?" Kao said during the intermission of a legislative committee meeting.

"Other countries might worry that, perhaps, their cases could be disclosed here as well," the scholar-turned-vice-foreign-minister added.

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