Sat, Aug 16, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Legislative group says fishermen are spying for Beijing

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese government is using Taiwanese fishermen to spy on the ROC military, a legislative group warned yesterday.

The government should be on alert against Chinese authorities systematically making use of Taiwanese fishing crews to collect confidential information for the enemy, members of the Alliance Against Selling out Taiwan said.

Security authorities unexpectedly discovered frequent collaboration between fishermen and Chinese authorities when they checked on the activity of national fishing and commercial ships in response to the government's concern of the dangers of direct transportation links, revealed DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮), a member of the alliance.

The Taiwanese fishermen and businessmen received bribes from the Chinese government to photograph Taiwan's coasts, providing Beijing with images which are confidential thus raising a great national security issue, Chai added.

The ships also engaged in illicit conduct such as transporting Chinese stowaways or other smuggling illegalities, according to the lawmaker.

Another alliance member, independent Legislator Peter Lin (林進興), cautioned that the recruited fishing vessels had spied on the country's Hankuang No. 19 military drills in Ilan in May. The fishermen were responsible for updating Beijing as the exercise progressed, he said. He said that he corroborated his information with military officials.

DPP Legislator Charles Chiang (江昭儀), another member of the legislative group, said that Beijing has registered all Taiwanese fishing ships of having accepted spying missions and allows them to travel freely to any fishing, commercial or military harbors in China.

Fellow Legislator Lee Cheng-nan (李鎮楠) added that Taiwan's intelligence personnel had speculated that the ships also acted as a channel to help Taiwanese gangsters travel in and out of Taiwan without proper documentation.

The Coast Guard Administration needs to reinforce its job of security checks on fishing vessels and commercial ships, the group members said.

The US spy ship USNS Bowditch was also spotted in early May off the military port of Suao at a distance close enough to be identified with binoculars, defense sources divluged on May 25.

The Bowditch sails only in international waters but China has intercepted the ship and force it away from its shores and has used fishing boats to deliberately bump into the US vessel as a way of scaring it off.

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