Government offices lack credible information security and are vulnerable to Chinese espionage, an official in the national security establishment said.
Taiwan’s national security authorities estimate that about 5,000 individuals are collecting state secrets in Taiwan on behalf of the Chinese government, and the nation’s civilian administration is no less vulnerable or compromised than its military, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Although 80 percent of all detected incidents of Chinese espionage targeted the military, leaving just 20 percent aimed at the civilian government, the disparity was likely due to the military’s higher detection rate, as it has counterintelligence capabilities that are absent from the government’s administrative offices, the official said.
Taiwanese authorities have uncovered 60 espionage plots since 2002. Eighteen were discovered before August 2009, when mail, commerce and travel channels were opened between Taiwan and China, while 42 have been recorded since then, according to reports.
Detected Chinese espionage operations represent only the tip of the iceberg, the official said.
In addition to military and national security apparatuses, Chinese intelligence operatives have infiltrated the administrative offices of the civilian government, the official said.
Such offices are primary targets, as they are capable of providing sensitive information regarding technological research and development, diplomatic policies and cross-strait affairs, the official said.
The official cited the detention last week of Chinese former student Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭) on suspicion of espionage as evidence that Chinese agents have compromised government offices.
Zhou allegedly attempted to “recruit Taiwanese officials working in ministry or department-level organizations in the central government on a long-term basis,” and confidential information entrusted to multiple governmental agencies and employees of educational institutions has been compromised, the official said, citing knowledge of the investigation.
“The main issue for governmental administrative offices is that civil servants have low awareness [about espionage] and the offices lack their own information security systems to protect them from communist spies, beyond the ‘ethics units’ putting in double shifts. As they have no mechanisms for reporting suspected espionage attempts, the risk of vulnerable civil servants being turned or compromised is substantial,” the official said.
Chinese espionage is not limited to attempts to infiltrate the central government, the official said, adding that Beijing’s agents have exploited cross-strait exchange channels to approach and cultivate specific individuals of Aboriginal descent for recruitment as assets or agents.
The high-profile espionage case of Presidential Office employee Wang Jen-bin (王仁炳) in 2009, who was later convicted of espionage, was one of the incidents of Chinese infiltration of the civilian government, the official said.
LOYALTY: The 10 active and retired soldiers betrayed the nation and its people by leaking and passing on military secrets to China, the High Prosecutors’ Office said Ten former and current military officers were yesterday indicted on charges of spying for China, including two who allegedly filmed themselves pledging loyalty to Beijing. The High Prosecutors’ Office requested life imprisonment for the suspects in light of the severity of the crime. The 10 active-duty and retired officers included members of the 601st Brigade of the Aviation Special Forces comprising attack helicopter squadrons and elite combat units in charge of defending northern Taiwan, including Taipei. The other suspects came from Huadong Defense Command, in charge of defending the eastern coast; Kinmen Defense Command, in charge of defending Kinmen and Matsu; and one
NO FREE LUNCH: Taiwanese joining the trips to China met TAO and United Front Work officials who urged them to vote for candidates who support closer ties with Beijing The Ciaotou Prosecutors’ Office in Kaohsiung yesterday released two suspects on bail who have been accused of recruiting Taiwanese to join tours to China funded by Beijing and in which they were urged to vote for pan-blue candidates in January’s presidential and legislative elections. The pan-blue camp generally refers to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the People First Party, the New Party and the Young China Party, which support closer relations with China. Prosecutors said that a man, surnamed Cheng (鄭), and a woman, surnamed Yeh (葉), who are members of the China Pan-Blue Association, recruited Taiwanese tourists to join tours arranged
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday slammed a proposal by New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, to permit a “significant number” of Chinese students to study and work in Taiwan, saying it would be detrimental to young Taiwanese. At an event on Monday hosted by nine major industrial and business groups, Hou said that if elected, he would reinitiate cross-strait dialogue on the premise that Taiwan’s dignity would not be compromised and that the talks would be held in good faith. The talks would include lifting a ban on Chinese tour groups and
PEACE AND STABILITY: ‘Taiwan can be of tremendous value’ in building resilient supply chains, President Tsai Ing-wen said, as she encouraged closer ties with foreign businesses A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is unlikely for the time being due to the internal challenges and international pressure that China is facing, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the New York Times in an interview shown on Wednesday. “My thought is that perhaps this is not a time for them [China] to consider a major invasion of Taiwan,” Tsai said in a prerecorded interview for the DealBook Summit held by the newspaper on Wednesday. Beijing’s leadership is presently “overwhelmed by its internal challenges” on economic, financial and political grounds, while the international community “has made it loud and clear that war is