Military school may be front for spying: lawmakers

By Lo Tien-pin, Lee Yu-hsin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Tue, Oct 15, 2013 - Page 3

An aviation school founded by a former Republic of China (ROC) Air Force major who defected to China could seek to siphon national secrets from retired military personnel, opposition lawmakers said.

The lawmakers asked the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to demonstrate what it was doing to defend national interests against what they called blatant Chinese offensives.

Huang Chih-cheng (黃植誠), a graduate of the ROC Air Force Academy in 1973, defected on Aug. 8, 1981, piloting a F-5F trainer plane from Taoyuan to Fuzhou Airport in China.

His defection and the rewards he received were given high-profile treatment by the Chinese government to encourage other Taiwanese to defect. Huang was personally received by then-Chinese president Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), given a position in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and held a post in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference for multiple terms. By the time he retired in March, he had attained the rank of major general.

Huang’s company, an aviation school endorsed by the PLA, plans to set up operations on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and has made high-profile overtures by inviting retired Taiwanese officers to serve as consultants to the flight trainers, an act that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-lang (蔡煌瑯) said posed the danger of becoming a revolving door through which some Taiwanese officers or generals would use to interact with the Chinese military.

Referring to the Web site of Huang’s company, Tsai said Huang described his defection as an “uprising” and stated that the goal of the company is not only to train Taiwanese as pilots for China, but also to exert “an effort to increase recognition of the homeland’s culture in Taiwanese youth.”

These are blatant signs that Huang may try to use his company as a front to steal military secrets, Tsai said.

Taiwan has many retired generals who “do not consider Taiwan their home,” and the ministry must elevate the threshold for retired generals who wish to visit or travel to China, Tsai said, adding that President Ma Ying-joeu’s (馬英九) administration must treat this matter with all seriousness.

Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) said yesterday that Huang was still a wanted person and called on retired military personnel to keep a distance from his company.

Yen said that Huang had violated Article 24 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法) and was wanted by the Military High Court’s Prosecutors’ Office.

“We have not relaxed our regulations, and still treat traitors the same,” Yen said, adding that the company was established on Huang’s own initiative and the ministry had neither “authorized nor contacted” Huang’s aviation school.

The ministry said that there was no gray area when it came to patriotism.

Huang had accepted training by the ROC and should have known that he owed his loyalty to the ROC and to the protection of its people, the ministry said.

Huang’s inability to stay his course and discern right from wrong has caused him to not only betray his country, but also to sell his soul, it added.

The ministry also said that other retired military personnel should keep in mind their moral integrity and honor as military men, adding that they would not be swayed or influenced by Huang’s misdirection.

The validity of Huang’s wanted notice can extend as long as 37 years and six months from the last time he served on a Chinese government post, the ministry said.

DPP caucus whip Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said the ministry should offer a more substantial plan — instead of just stating that defectors remain on the wanted list —to stop the invasion of Taiwan by China and its insidious attempts to glean intelligence from Taiwan’s military.

The Military High Court also said that following the recent amendments to the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法), Huang’s defection case will also be turned over to civilian courts on Jan. 13 next year.

The code was amended following the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) by heat exhaustion, allegedly through intensive training administered with malignant intent, three days prior to finishing his compulsory service.