In 2021, a 24-year-old Chinese student in Taiwan, surnamed Zhang (張), started sending e-mails under the name “Takahiro Karasawa,” in which he claimed that he had planted bombs in public places across the nation, such as airports, railway stations and the Taipei 101 skyscraper.
Zhang’s warnings all turned out to be hoaxes, but they made a lot of trouble for police officers and detectives, and disrupted the operations of transport companies.
There has recently been another spate of hoax bomb threats. As Zhang has left Taiwan some time ago, local authorities had no choice but to ask China to apprehend the suspect, in accordance with the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議). However, Beijing has so far not responded to this request. This raises suspicions about whether the bomb warnings are a “gray-zone operation” orchestrated by China.
Everyone knows how strictly China controls the Internet. Anyone who is found to have circumvented the “Great Firewall of China” to access foreign Web sites may be fined 1,000 yuan (US$142), which is twice as high as the fine for using illegal drugs. That Zhang could continue sending e-mails threatening Taiwan for three years — especially during periods when Taiwan is receiving international support against China’s military and non-military threats — makes one suspect that even if the Chinese government does not authorize his activities, it at least tacitly approves of them.
If that is so, it is unrealistic for the government to ask for China’s assistance through the aforementioned agreement. After all, the Chinese government itself is making military threats against Taiwan and constantly waging cognitive warfare by spreading disinformation.
China would like there to be more threats like this to spark turmoil in Taiwan, and allow the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and other pro-unification forces in Taiwan to push their “China superiority theory” and play the “cross-strait peace card.”
If so, how can anyone expect China to cooperate with Taiwan’s request to arrest the suspect?
John Yu is a civil servant in Taipei.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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