An investigation into New Party spokesman Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠) has found that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) allegedly promised to pay Wang NT$15 million to NT$16 million (US$506,278 to US$540,030) annually for running the pro-unification propaganda Web site Fire News (燎原新聞網), the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.
Wang cofounded Fire News, which Chinese student Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭) helped promote as a consultant, and allegedly used it as a platform to recruit members for an organization he was setting up for the Chinese government, the report said.
In a document titled Fire News 2015 Year-end Working Report, Zhou wrote that the Web site had received US$200,000 in funding from the TAO, of which Wang’s father “lost US$20,000.”
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
The TAO, the sole financier of the Web site, promised to pay Wang every year starting this year for the operation of the Web site, which is exempted from taxes in China and can be increased if necessary, the report said.
The payment is to be claimed by Wang in Beijing and is to strictly remain that way, Zhou wrote in the Fire News log.
“There will be risks, considering that the ‘green camp’ will become the ruling party next year . The source of the funds will be shown as donations from disciples of the Chunghua Cultural and Educational Foundation of the Gods (中華文教代天協會) where Wang’s father works,” an excerpt from the log showed.
Prosecutors said that Zhou was instructed by the TAO to recruit current and retired Taiwanese military officials through Wang — an operation codenamed the “Star Fire T Project” (星火T計劃) — and was to offer various financial rewards to Wang and others, depending on the value of the contacts they introduced.
The operation was aimed at infiltrating the military through obtaining confidential information from digital networks and databases, deepening existing contacts, holding military-related events and filing academic research reports, prosecutors said.
A reward of NT$3,000 was to be offered for each contact who follows Fire News’ Facebook page, as long as the member read and “liked” at least 70 percent of its posts.
For each member who interacted with the page’s content creators at least once every two weeks for a minimum of two months, NT$5,000 was to be offered.
Rewards of NT$10,000 were to be given for securing offline meetings with contacts, with the aim of developing closer relationships and building trust by having the contact share personal information and take photographs together.
For closer two-person exchanges in which the contact opened up about their feelings regarding politics and deeply personal information, a reward of NT$50,000 was to be given, prosecutors said.
Following these encounters, Zhou, Wang and others were to report to the TAO for further instructions.
Zhou also wrote that the Web site’s content is overseen by New Party youth wing executive Hou Han-ting (侯漢廷) and produced by about five writers.
The office yesterday issued a new indictment charging Zhou with violating the National Security Act (國家安全法) and forwarded the findings to the Taiwan High Court without suggesting an extension of Zhou’s prison term.
The move came two weeks after the office’s search and arrest of Wang, Hou and two other New Party members, who were taken to the Investigation Bureau for questioning as witnesses in the case.
The questioning sparked controversy after it was found that the search warrant investigators used had not been signed by a judge.
Prosecutors in July last year charged Zhou with “colluding with an enemy of the nation to create organizations” — a violation of the National Security Act.
The Taipei District Court in September last year sentenced Zhou to 14 months in prison. The case is being investigated by the High Court after Zhou appealed the verdict.
Zhou in September 2012 enrolled at National Chengchi University, and in July 2014 went to Shanghai, where he met a secretary at a Chinese government agency surnamed Lee (李), who invited Zhou to several banquets and allegedly promised him monetary rewards in exchange for introductions to Taiwanese politicians, military personnel, police, intelligence officers, diplomats and influential figures, the office’s report found.
Lee had allegedly planned to arrange meetings between Chinese and Taiwanese officials in China or overseas to steal classified data from Taiwanese authorities, the report said.
Zhou in turn set his sights on a nascent Taiwanese diplomat, repeatedly encouraging them to work for the Chinese government, which offers generous salaries in addition to a quarterly bonus of US$10,000, the report said.
He also allegedly encouraged the diplomat to travel to Japan and promised to introduce them to Chinese officials there, it said.
Zhou’s lobbying alarmed the diplomat, who reported Zhou, it said.
The office said that it in March last year, during a raid of Zhou’s apartment, uncovered his correspondence, which showed that Zhou had been in contact with Wang and other New Party youth wing members, with whom he exchanged political views and discussed current issues.
It said it suspected that Zhou had planned to turn the four New Party members, but since it did not have hard evidence of their involvement in Zhou’s case or leaking of confidential information, they were only summoned as witnesses.
VITAL INDUSTRY: A war in the Strait would be a catastrophe, as Taiwan ‘lies at the heart’ of the world’s semiconductor industry, the magazine’s report said The government yesterday welcomed international attention on Taiwan’s security, saying that China is to blame for threatening regional stability, after a report by The Economist called Taiwan “the most dangerous place on Earth.” The report is featured on the cover of the magazine’s latest issue, which depicts the nation as the epicenter of a US-China rivalry. The cover shows Taiwan in a radar display with dots crossing the Taiwan Strait accompanied by a Chinese flag and dots nearing the east coast with a US flag. The US maintains a “one China” policy, while maintaining relations with Taiwan, but such “strategic ambiguity is breaking
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