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Only fisheries data leaked to China: Taiwan Defense Minister

Only fisheries data leaked to China: Taiwan Defense Minister

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The secret information leaked to China by three retired officers concerned not Taiwan’s submarines but the protection of fishermen, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said Tuesday.
The Ministry of National Defense confirmed media reports Monday that three retired officers had been arrested on suspicion of working for China. They were suspected of having passed on sensitive maps and data which would allow China to destroy Taiwan’s submarines in the event of war, reports said.
However, Kao told legislators Tuesday that the leaked data were not crucial since they only dealt with the protection of fishing grounds and fishermen.
Commander Chang Chih-hsin, 45, a former director of the political warfare department at the Naval Meteorological and Oceanographic Office, reportedly made contact with the Chinese while he was still working there, and later recruited two other former colleagues to work for him.
Chang apparently had access to maritime charts and maps used by Taiwan’s submarine fleet as well as data about the island’s marine environment. If China acquired the information, it would have an easier time planning an attack against the submarines, reports said.
The oceanographic unit had maps of potential battlegrounds in the seas around Taiwan, according to media reports, though the military downplayed Chang’s access to the data. It said he only accepted money from China to recruit other retired officers to pass on information.
Intelligence officers became suspicious of him even before he retired and kept a close watch on him, the military said. Following several trips to Southeast Asia, he retired from the military in May and visited China’s Fujian Province in August. The authorities later arrested him at his Kaohsiung home, reports said.
Lawmakers slammed the military for failing to ban the suspect officer from heading for China after his retirement, saying it was guilty of gross negligence in protecting the nation’s secrets.
The military denied that any officers still working at the oceanographic office were also involved in the espionage plot.
Kao told legislators that the scandal was not as serious as media had reported and that the leaked documents had a low classification.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party has accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s pro-China policies of being the reason why so many military officers had decided to collect information for Beijing. They had lost their sense of patriotism as the government and the ruling Kuomintang had given up their mission to protect Taiwan against the communist neighbor, the DPP said.
Lawmakers demanded a thorough review of security measures and personnel vetting in the wake of the latest espionage scandal hitting the military.


Updated : 2021-05-17 01:37 GMT+08:00