A Chinese tourist was arrested on Monday on a charge of spying on a military facility, prompting accusations from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday that the government was neglecting national security.
Military police had detained the tourist, Ma Zhongfei (馬中飛), chairman of a high-tech company in China, for taking photos of military property at the Armed Forces Recruitment Center in Taipei. He was placed under arrest late on Monday night and detained for questioning.
Taipei prosecutors said they transferred the case to the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors’ Office at midnight on Monday because the case fell under the High Court’s jurisdiction.
Prosecutor Tseng Chiun-che (曾俊哲) yesterday took Ma back to the recruitment center to question him about the exact locations where he had taken photos and where he had aimed his camera.
This would be important in determining Ma’s reasons for taking the photos, prosecutors said.
Ma told prosecutors that he came to Taiwan on a nine-day tour and had planned to return to China today.
He left his tour group on Monday afternoon saying he was going to Sindian (新店) in Taipei County to pay his respects to a deceased Taiwanese friend. As he traveled along Keelung Road, he stopped at the recruitment center and took some pictures.
Ma said he entered the recruitment center to take photos of the buildings.
He said he asked the guards on duty at the center whether he could look around and take some pictures.
They told him it was permitted, as the building is open to the public, Ma said. The suspect took some photographs of the buildings, vehicles and people inside the center, Ma said.
He said had no intention to steal military secrets.
“Prosecutors are still in the process of determining whether the defendant intended to intrude or had accidentally entered the center,” Taiwan High Court Prosecutors’ Office spokesperson Lin Bang-liang (林邦樑) said.
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major-General Yu Sy-tue (虞思祖) told a press conference that Ma had been arrested because he had entered a restricted area through a back door, after which he immediately pulled out his camera and began taking pictures.
He was discovered by security guards, who arrested him on the spot, Yu said.
“Our guards stopped him immediately and arrested him because what he did was in violation of the law,” the spokeman said.
Yu said Ma violated Article 112 of the Criminal Code, for which he faces a prison sentence of up to 12 months if found guilty.
“After being questioned by military police, the man was transferred to the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors’ Office,” Yu said.
“Military personnel acted correctly throughout,” he said.
While the recruitment center has been temporarily closed to the public since yesterday, military personnel at the center were maintaining their regular work schedules, Yu said.
Members of the DPP caucus said at a press conference yesterday that the government was neglecting the potential threat to national security posed by the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan.
“Chinese tourists have also been found filming and taking photos of the air force’s Chiashan [佳山] base in Hualien when they visited a scenic spot next to the base, but the military and the government did nothing to stop it and prevent military secrets from being leaked,” DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said.
“Perhaps the government should rename Chiashan air force base as Chiashan sightseeing spot,” she added.
Yeh said Taiwan could not rely on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to protect the country.
But Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), a member of the Foreign and National Defense Committee, downplayed the possible impact on national security.
Lin urged the public to remain alert, but not to worry.
“Military facilities that perform classified duties are usually hidden somewhere,” he said.
“Many military facilities of real importance are either underground, hidden in caves or in forests,” Lin said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
CAUTION: Taiwan had zero cases of death from food poisoning for six years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, an FDA official said The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption. The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed. That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people. Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters