The government has discovered more than 40 civil servants who had been involved in inappropriate dealings with Chinese officials during trips to China, according to a letter the Ministry of Justice recently sent to departments of civil service ethics nationwide.
The letter was sent to the departments in the wake of reports of a scandal late last year involving Presidential Office officials allegedly conspiring with the Chinese government.
In the letter, the ministry urged civil servants to be careful about what they say and do in China, saying that four of the 40 implicated civil servants had been secretly filmed by the Chinese government at hostess lounges in China and were then blackmailed into becoming informers for Beijing.
Kuan Kao-yueh (管高岳), director of the ministry’s Department of Government Ethics, said the letter had been sent to departments of civil service ethics in the hope of raising awareness among civil servants of the perils of trips to China.
When asked to elaborate on the four civil servants who had been blackmailed, Kuan said he had received the information from another government agency and that he was not sure about further details.
Kuan said that since the government was mulling allowing senior civil servants to visit China soon, the ministry’s Department of Government Ethics hoped that local ethics departments could educate their staff about potential dangers that might await them in China, especially the risk of being lured into an adulterous situation and then being blackmailed.
During a county government meeting on Tuesday, Chen Shan-ken (陳杉根), director of the Taichung County Government’s Personnel Department, said that two of the incidents involving male civil servants being blackmailed in China had happened to junior civil servants.
Chen said the two were secretly recorded in hostess lounges and then threatened by Chinese nationals asking for information on the Taiwanese government not long after the civil servants returned home.
Chen said 26 Taichung County government officials went to China on official business last year, while one went to visit their ancestral home in Fujian Province.
Taichung City’s Department of Civil Service Ethics Director Hsu Chin-lai (許金來) said the ministry had sent out the letter before the Lunar New Year holidays requesting that all officials who visit China keep confidentiality in mind and beware of potential spies at all times.
In addition to having departments of civil service ethics prepare officials going abroad for the dangers they might face, the National Security Bureau and the ministry’s Investigation Bureau will also periodically ask government personnel offices to provide them with lists of officials who have made both official and unofficial visits to China, ministry staffers said.
Any civil servant found to have had dealings with Chinese spies or unusual contacts with Chinese government officials will be monitored and investigated, they said.