An infantry officer in Taiwan was on Tuesday indicted on charges of pledging allegiance to China, and for receiving payments to spy on the military for China. The prosecution said that they did not have enough evidence to charge him with espionage.
According to a report from the Central News Agency on Tuesday, Hsiang Te-en, a 49-year-old former head of the Kaohsiung-based Army Infantry Training Command’s Operations Research and Development Division allegedly received NT$40,000 ($1,280) per month from October 31, 2019 to January this year from Chinese operatives.
The prosecution said that Shao Wei-chang, a former reporter, paid Hsiang NT$560,000 for information. Shao directed Hsiang in January 2020 to pose for a photograph in his military uniform while holding up a signed, handwritten note pledging his allegiance to China.
“I, Hsiang Te-en, hereby pledge to support cross-strait peaceful unification. I will do my best at my current post to fulfill the glorious task of pushing for peaceful unification for the motherland,” the note read.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said that these allegations illustrate “how the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration and recruitment, intelligence collection and theft of secrets has become a serious threat.”
It also gives weight to concerns over Taiwan’s ability to block Beijing’s snooping, something the United States has long been worried about. US President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that the US would defend Taiwan if China ever attacks.
Chinese Foreign MInistry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday declined to comment on the allegations, claiming that it wasn’t a diplomatic issue. Chinese president Xi Jinping has reiterated, most recently at the national congress of the Chinese Communist Party that his regime was willing to use force in the name of “reunification.”
“The wheels of history are rolling on towards reunification and the rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation. Complete reunification must be realised and it can without a doubt be achieved,” he said in October. “We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force.”
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen recognizes this threat. “It’s real that this thing could happen to us,” Tsai told The Atlantic’s Ben Rhodes earlier this month. “So we need to get ourselves ready.”
“There is a genuine threat out there. It’s not hype.” But the leader of the democratically governed island remains defiant, refusing to be scared off by Xi’s pronouncements. “If the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] wants to do something drastic, Xi has to weigh the costs,” Tsai said in the interview. “He has to think twice.”
Information for this briefing was found via CNA, Bloomberg, The Atlantic, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.