TAIPEI, Taiwan—Four retired Taiwanese intelligence officers, according to local prosecutors, were convicted on 20 February of allegedly spying for China.
The four of them worked for the Military Intelligence Bureau, a Taiwan National Defense Ministry agency. According to the local media, Chinese agents have been charged with violation of the National Security Act on the island and the National Intelligence Service Act for handing out confidential information and developing a spy network since 2013.
The four once held top military posts in the office. Former major general, Yueh Chih-chung, and the other three colonels: Chang Chao-jan, Chou Tien-tzu and Wang Ta-wang.
Chinese intelligence agents offered Chang, Chou and Yueh cash, free trips to Chinese territory and business opportunities in China in exchange for Taiwan, prosecutors claimed.
China claims Taiwan as part of its own territory and tries by peaceful or military means to connect the self-ruled island with the mainland. Beijing has been trying for years to undermine the national security of the island by targeted Taiwanese citizens to collect intelligence.
For example, in June last year three former aid workers for local legislators in Taiwan were arrested on spying charges reportedly spying on China. Two months later, they were charged.
In March 2019, two retired Taiwanese lieutenant colonels, found guilty of trying to collect Taiwan’s military secrets for Beijing, received a six-month sentence.
The latest criminal case began in 1999 when Chang visited China to rescue a Taiwanese retired colonel from the military office arrested by Chinese authorities. During that visit, Chang was successfully recruited to become a spy for China by a Chinese agent surnamed Wei. Wei was an official at the National Security Office in Guangdong Province in southern China.
Chang was requested to recruit from the Taiwan office other retired officials.
In 2012, Chou became a Chinese spy following an immobilization legal dispute in the Hainan province of South China. Chou helped Chinese intelligence officials identify other Taiwanese intelligence officers on one occasion.
That same year, after Wei assured him that he could visit his relative in China safely, Yueh became a spy. Yueh, who was responsible for the collection of Chinese intelligence at the Taiwan office, became concerned that for his work he could be detained by the Chinese authorities.
Yueh was once paid HK$6,000 (about $774) by the local Taipei Time newspaper to supply classified information on the Taiwan office, including its operations and structure. In 2016, when we visited Chinese cities for leisure and meetings with Chinese officials, we also paid for Yueh’s travel and accommodation expenses.
Wang leaked his fellow trainees’ career and background information to China at the Taiwan office. After a meeting with Chang intelligence officials in China, Wang became a spy.
But not every recruitment has succeeded. In 2013, Chang and Chou failed to recruit a retired colonel from the office; in 2017, Chang, Chou, and Yueh had failed.
After posting a bail of $300,000 New Taiwan Dollars (approximately $10,740), Chang was released on Saturday evening, the central Taiwanese news agency said. He is not allowed to leave Taiwan. Since October last year, Chang has been detained.
Yueh and Chou were also released after the bail was issued in October. The status of Wang is unclear.