China is intensifying its psychological warfare against Taiwan and appears to be using tourism as a means to collect intelligence in Taiwan, information obtained by the Taipei Times shows.
Reports on various Chinese military Web sites dating back to March last year reveal that the Nanjing Military Region’s General Political Department’s (GPD) 311 Base in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, has been turned into a center of political warfare operations against Taiwan.
Reorganization efforts have seen China’s Voice of the Straits radio, formerly known as the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Fujian frontline broadcasting station, incorporated into the 311 Base.
The station, a service launched in the 1950s to broadcast propaganda at Taiwan, introduced online broadcasting in April 2000.
The move was part of an expansion of psychological warfare from the radio station to a variety of fields, including publishing and other areas of contact with Taiwan, making the 311 Base “the cornerstone of the PLA’s psychological warfare against Taiwan,” the reports said.
Included in those other “areas of contact” was tourism, the reports said, adding that the 311 Base and its subsidiaries would make “further investments,” without specifying what those were.
News of the reorganization coincided with rapid growth last year in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan.
Among the functions of the GPD are ideological education, security, discipline, propaganda and psychological work among active service personnel. Two subunits — liaison and security — are of particular interest.
The Liaison Department, whose primary target is Taiwan, is responsible for influencing the political opinions and attitudes of enemy personnel, as well as collecting and analyzing intelligence on social, political and demographic situations in target countries. It also directs training on psychological warfare.
The role of the Security Department, among others, is directing security and counterintelligence operations.
Chinese must obtain permission from the Chinese government to visit Taiwan. Those who intend to travel independently must apply to the Ministry of Public Security through a Chinese tour organizer.
Security analysts have long said that this process presents Chinese authorities with opportunities to “direct” Chinese tourists. It is also believed that Chinese intelligence operatives have been using tourism as cover to undertake operations in Taiwan.
Since President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration opened the country to Chinese tourism, a number of incidents involving Chinese have raised concerns about national security. In May 2009, Ma Zhongfei (馬中飛) was arrested on charges of spying at a military facility in Taipei after he was caught taking pictures near a restricted area.
Less well known is that that facility houses the Information and Communication Security Technology center, which plays a crucial coordination role in ensuring information security for all government agencies.
Asked for comment, Tourism Bureau Deputy Director General David Hsieh (謝謂君) said he had not heard of such things and did not want to speculate on the motives of Chinese visitors.
“When we allowed Chinese to travel in Taiwan, the organizations in charge of national security evaluated some of the issues that this might create,” he said, adding that the bureau only wanted to focus on tourism.
Travel permit applications by Chinese tourists are reviewed by the National Immigration Agency, he said.
Chinese who are part of a tour group must abide by the schedules arranged by Taiwanese travel agents and are unlikely to engage in non-tourism activities, Hsieh said.
As for free independent travelers, Hsieh said different government agencies should have their own security measures, but should not single out Chinese tourists.
Some travel agents told the Taipei Times they had heard that Chinese “secret service” agents were joining tour groups to monitor the movement of Chinese tourists in Taiwan and report on those who engaged in unusual activities.
However, they said they had yet to meet one in person or at least were unaware if they had done so.
About 1.6 million Chinese tourists visited Taiwan last year, a number that is expected to reach 2.1 million this year.
HIGH-RISK GROUP: After the latest outbreak, family members of workers exposed to infection would from tomorrow be eligible for government-funded vaccines The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four local COVID-19 cases: three family members of an infected worker at a quarantine hotel and a family member of an infected pilot. The new cases bring the number of infections involving China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) pilots and the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, where many of the airline’s crew members quarantined, to 24. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said three of them are the husband, son and daughter of case No. 1,129, a woman in her 60s, who works at the hotel. The son is in
NEXT STEP? The contract chipmaker said it would decide whether to add more plants based on operation efficiency, cost economics and demand Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is planning to build several more chipmaking fabs in the US state of Arizona beyond the one already planned, three people familiar with the matter said. TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, announced in May last year that it would build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. The 12-inch wafer fab in Phoenix is expected to start mass production in 2024, the Investment Commission said in December, when it approved the plan. Three sources familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that up
VIRUS CURBS: Visiting people staying at healthcare and long-term care facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan is banned until May 17, the CECC announced The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday banned visits to patients or residents at healthcare and long-term care facilities in three cities until May 17. It also reported six imported cases of COVID-19 and two cases with unclear infection sources. As the number of locally transmitted cases rises, some of whom have visited many places in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, enhanced disease prevention measures have to be implemented in the three cities, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. “Visiting people staying at healthcare and long-term care facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City and
TAKING NOTICE: In the first time that G7 foreign ministers have mentioned Taiwan in a joint communique, they called for ‘peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait’ The Presidential Office yesterday thanked the G7 foreign ministers for their strong support of Taiwan after the group in its joint statement on Wednesday called for the nation’s participation in the WHO, and the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The ministers in a communique issued at the end of their three-day meeting declared support for “Taiwan’s meaningful participation” in WHO forums and the World Health Assembly (WHA). “The international community should be able to benefit from the experience of all partners, including Taiwan’s successful contribution to the tackling of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said. The statement included a section