Retired Taiwan general charged with spying for China

A retired Taiwanese general and another senior officer were charged Friday for involvement in developing a spy network for China, prosecutors said.

Taipei and Beijing have been spying on each other since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the losing nationalist side fled to the island.

The major general, identified by his family name Chien, and a retired lieutenant colonel named Wei were charged with violating national security law, the Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office said.

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They were accused of assisting a Hong Konger named Tse who worked for an organization in southern China’s Guangdong province associated with Beijing’s Central Military Commission, a statement said.

Tse had visited Taiwan under the guise of doing business and recruited a number of retired officers by offering free meals and travel, in an attempt to use them to reach those on active duty.

Chien and Wei, among others, tried unsuccessfully to recruit Chang Che-ping, a top Air Force official who, according to the statement, served as Deputy Defense Minister from July 2019 to June 2021.

“Both defendants intend to endanger national security and develop a network for Chinese military institutions,” the report said.

Chang, currently a strategic adviser to President Tsai Ing-wen, was investigated last year for his suspected links to the case and was later named as a witness rather than a defendant.

Tse stopped traveling to Taiwan after the case came to light and is on Taiwan’s wanted list.

One of Taiwan’s worst espionage scandals in the past involved an army general who headed an intelligence unit, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for spying for China.

Beijing sees the self-governed democratic island as part of its territory that will one day be recaptured, if necessary by force.

It has stepped up pressure on Taiwan since Tsai’s election in 2016, as she rejects its stance that the island is part of China.

On Tuesday, 29 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defense zone during their third-largest daily foray this year, followed by another major break-in involving 22 aircraft on Thursday, the island’s government said.

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