Sun, Oct 02, 2016 - Page 3 News List

IN FOCUS: Ma years ‘dark decade’ in intelligence war: analyst

CHANGING SENTIMENT:Peter Mattis suggested that Chinese intelligence agents have fewer opportunities to recruit due to a growing pro-independence position

By Nadia Tsao, Shih Hsiao-kuang, Jonathan Chin and William Het  /  Staff reporters, with staff writers, in WASHINGTON and TAIPEI

Former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration was a “dark decade” for Taiwan’s intelligence war with China, and Chinese espionage operations against Taiwan discovered over the past 10 years were likely just “the tip of the iceberg,” a US analyst on Chinese intelligence operations wrote recently.

Taiwan’s intelligence and counterintelligence failures damaged the nation’s “reputation and sowed doubt about its integrity,” Peter Mattis, a Jamestown Foundation fellow and former US government analyst, said in an article entitled “Spy Games in Taiwan Strait: Taipei’s Unenviable Espionage Problem” in the Global Taiwan Brief, which is published by the Global Taiwan Institute.

Since 2006, more than 40 Taiwanese have been held on charges of assisting Chinese espionage, including retired and active military personnel and businesspeople, he said.

“One might interpret these events as indicating that Taiwanese counterintelligence performed well in capturing so many spies, but it more likely reflects the tip of the iceberg, in terms of the relentless pressure applied by China’s intelligence operations in Taiwan,” he said.

He said that of greatest concern to intelligence-gathering efforts was the information leaked by Chen Shu-lung (陳蜀龍), a retired major who worked at the Ministry of National Defense’s Military Intelligence Bureau and was recruited by Chinese intelligence operatives in 2006, whose conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2014.

Mattis said authorities are concerned that information leaked by Chen could help the Chinese government uncover and possibility recruit Taiwanese spies operating in China.

Mattis said other compromised military officers include Ko Cheng-sheng (柯政盛), a retired navy vice admiral who was found guilty of passing classified material to China; former army general Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲), whose conviction of spying for China was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012; and retired major general Hsu Nai-chuan (許乃權), who was convicted of obtaining and passing classified information to China after being recruited by former Chinese People’s Liberation Army intelligence officer Zhen Xiaojiang (鎮小江).

The Supreme Court in July upheld a four-year prison term for Zhen in a final ruling over what has been called the biggest Chinese spy ring to have operated in Taiwan in recent years.

Taiwan’s own espionage activities were also hurt by the arrest of Military Intelligence Bureau colonels Chu Kung-hsun (朱恭訓) and Hsu Chang-kuo (徐章國), who were kidnapped in Vietnam and taken to China in 2006, Mattis said.

Mattis suggested that while the decrease in the amount of Chinese spy activity this year might be due to the increased sophistication of Chinese spies, it might also be due to Taiwanese, whom he argued are increasingly uninterested in close ties with China.

An increase in independence-leaning sentiment is resulting in fewer recruitment opportunities for Chinese intelligence-gathering efforts, he said.

In the past, Taiwanese traitors were young military officers recruited as spies by Chinese contacts within the military, or were recently retired high-ranking officers.

Mattis said that China will most likely not end its espionage activities in Taiwan, adding that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration must have reliable counterintelligence measures in place to gain the confidence of the nation’s allies.

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