Taiwanese soldiers become Communist spies again

Taiwanese media outlet China Times reported that Taiwan’s investigative bureau and others discovered that Chen, a former sergeant major at the Navy Training Center, had been forced to repay debts. Chen is suspected of having been recruited by Chinese intelligence as a spy for Beijing while in office, and that he used his position to secretly take photos of Navy personnel, training, bases, and other confidential information with his mobile phone at the Suao Naval Port in Yilan, eastern Taiwan, and the Longquan Marine Corps Training Center in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, and leaked the photos to China four times, earning a total profit of about NT$170,000 (equivalent to about RMB 37,000).

The investigation bureau pointed out that the information leaked by Chen involved confidential information such as naval ports, photos of warships, and personnel training, and was being investigated by prosecutors in the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office’s “Major Cases Endangering National Security and Social Order” team. The Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office indicted Chen under the Land, Navy, and Air Force Criminal Code for collecting electromagnetic records of military secrets, and under the Anti-Corruption Act for accepting bribes in violation of his duties. The investigation was concluded on June 24th of this year, and he was indicted.

According to the indictment, since 2022, Chen has borrowed funds online through communication software such as LINE and TELEGRAM and met with “Business Manager Zhang,” who is involved in Chinese intelligence activities in a private lending group. In order to obtain high-loan and low-interest loan opportunities, Chen sent multiple messages to “Zhang.” “Zhang” lured Chen with large rewards on the condition that he was expected to provide confidential information about the Taiwanese navy.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Sun Li-fang confirmed at a regular press conference on the 9th that the case had entered into judicial proceedings. The Ministry of National Defense’s security and defense organization discovered the abnormality during internal counterintelligence activities, worked closely with the national security team to resolve the case, and handed it over to the judicial authorities.

“Anomaly discovered inside” Ministry of Defense and security forces work together to solve incident

Sun Lifang emphasized, “In recent years, the infiltration of enemy spies by the Chinese Communist Party has indeed posed a serious threat to the national armed forces. The level of this threat is no less than the threats posed by missiles, aircraft and ships we have seen before. For this reason, we have made many strengthening efforts in terms of security education, counterintelligence mechanisms, and the operation of the national security team’s security mechanisms.”

Sun Lifang said that in recent years, a considerable number of espionage cases have been uncovered through internal reporting by soldiers and the operation of protection and prevention mechanisms, emphasizing the effectiveness of this part. In the future, it is necessary to continue to strengthen the establishment of financial education concepts for soldiers and actively prevent soldiers from falling into the enemy’s traps.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party legislator Wang Ting-yu said in an interview that this is not the first time. In a series of previous espionage cases, many financial issues were involved, and many veterans returned to build organizational ties. “To protect the honor and honor of the military, we must root out these scoundrels and deal with them with the heaviest of laws. Through financial loopholes and underground banks, loopholes in national security and defense are formed. We are still considering whether such criminal patterns should be punished and deterred more severely.”

Gong Xiangsheng, an associate researcher at the Institute for Chinese Political and Military Operational Concepts at the Taiwan Institute for Defense and Security Studies, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia that Zuoying Military Region is large, contains new training centers and important naval institutions, and allows non-commissioned officers to move around freely. Soldiers whose families are in financial difficulty or who have poor money management and urgently need funds are often left in the loophole.

Junior NCOs have a low barrier to contact and can easily cast a net to obtain real-time information.

In the past, there have been many high-ranking retired generals implicated in Beijing’s espionage cases. In recent years, many of them are active or retired non-commissioned officers and soldiers who have built relationships under the guise of senior and junior, superior and subordinate, and are involved in intelligence activities.

Gong Xiangsheng said, “We don’t need to train too many high-ranking talents. If we train lower-level talents who are easier to infiltrate and make contact with, they can help us take photos of Zuoying naval port and important military facilities. This kind of infiltration is very convenient for them and they can get what they need quickly. The timeliness of military information is very important.”

Gong Xiangsheng gave the example of Zuoying Naval Base. By photographing the surrounding military facilities at regular intervals and locations, it is possible to estimate the number of ships, people and vehicles in a week or several days, and calculate the number, frequency and peak period of local military personnel, vehicles and equipment.

In response to the Ministry of National Defense emphasizing that the incident was resolved as a result of counterintelligence activities by the internal security apparatus, Gong Xiangsheng said that it is difficult to completely prevent espionage activities by soldiers, and what the Ministry of National Defense can do is to detect it immediately and as quickly as possible.

He analyzed that while China used to have a lot of contact with veterans, now, due to the need for immediacy, it is contacting active military personnel to absorb various types of information in order to build a complete intelligence network.

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