Taiwan opens investigation into claims that ex-deputy defence minister was Chinese spy

WION Web Team
Taipei, TaiwanUpdated: Jul 28, 2021, 06:55 PM IST

Taiwan's former deputy defence minister General Chang Che-Ping Photograph:(Twitter)

Story highlights

Chang Che-ping, in office from July 2019 to June 2021, was being probed for allegedly having multiple contacts with a Chinese spy organisation over meals

Taiwan authorities are investigating a former deputy defence minister and several other serving and retired military officers over contacts with what authorities believe to be a Chinese spy.

The investigation is the most high-level case of suspected spying across the sensitive Taiwan strait in recent years and comes as Beijing has been stepping up pressure on the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its territory.

Chang Che-ping, in office from July 2019 to June 2021, was being probed for allegedly having multiple contacts with a Chinese spy organisation over meals, online news website Mirror Media reported citing sources, in what could be the island's highest level espionage case yet.

Taiwan and China have been spying on each other since the Nationalists fled to the island to set up a rival government in 1949, having lost the civil war on the mainland to the communists.

Beijing has ramped up pressure since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, as she rejects its stance that the self-ruled, democratic island is part of China's territory.

When asked to comment on the report on Wednesday, Taipei district prosecutor's office confirmed an investigation was underway but had not concluded.

Mirror Media said the Hong Kong-based representative of the Chinese Central Military Commission had travelled to Taiwan where he dined with Chang several times. The representative also organised a trip to Hong Kong for Chang's wife, it said.

Chang, 63, was once a frontrunner to become chief of the general staff but he was eventually assigned to head the National Defence University.

The Mirror Media report said the unnamed Hong Konger who allegedly attempted to recruit Chang had been developing a spy network under the disguise of doing business since Tsai's predecessor Ma Ying-jeou, who was president between 2008 and 2016.

He was linked to China's Central Military Commission and had successfully recruited several retired Taiwanese officers, the outlet added, citing unnamed sources.

Chang has denied any wrongdoing and claimed he strictly followed all confidentiality requirements during meetings with friends, Taiwan's official Central News Agency said. 

Beijing has ramped up an influence campaign to sway public opinion on the island while its military has been making incursions into Taiwan's air defence identification zone and into waters close to the island.

China has described the missions as necessary to protect its sovereignty and deal with "collusion" between Taipei and Washington.

The United States, which like most countries has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, has watched with alarm the rising tension with Beijing.

(With inputs from agencies)