TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s military vowed on Wednesday to step up its counterintelligence efforts as authorities investigated several serving and former military officers suspected of spying for China.
China, which is urging the island to accept its sovereignty, has launched an ongoing espionage campaign in recent years to undermine the military and civilian leadership of democratically ruled Taiwan, a Reuters probe has revealed.
A lieutenant colonel surnamed Hsiao, stationed in the Army’s Aviation and Special Forces Command, has been arrested on suspicion of leaking defense secrets to “foreign forces, including China” and “development organizations” in Taiwan, the official Central News Agency reported ( CNA).
Investigators raided the command headquarters in the northern city of Taoyuan this week, CNA reported, adding that four retired military officers and a “middleman” named Hsiao were also under investigation.
The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that authorities had gathered “concrete evidence” of illegal activity.
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“Faced with the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration, the national armed forces will continue to promote counterintelligence education and raise awareness,” the ministry said, adding it was saddened by the crime of “selling out the country and people.”
When asked about the reports at a news conference, Assistant Secretary General of the President’s Office Alex Huang said the incident was “shameless” and called for a thorough investigation.
“Betrayal of one’s comrades and of the country should be severely punished by law,” he said, adding that the authorities have worked hard to prevent such incidents from happening again.
China’s Bureau of Taiwan Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory, has increased military and political pressure in recent years to force the island to recognize its sovereignty, which the Taipei government refuses.
At least 21 serving or retired Taiwanese officers with the rank of captain or higher have been convicted of spying for China over the past decade, according to a Reuters analysis of court records and reports from Taiwan’s official news outlets.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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