TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – For the first time, a Chinese citizen who had come to Taiwan to study was arrested for spying, though prosecutors refused to reveal more details Friday.
Over the past few years, several spy rings were uncovered, but they mostly consisted of serving of retired Taiwanese military officers who were recruited by Chinese intelligence officers.
The Taipei District Court agreed to a request from prosecutors Friday morning to detain a man named as Zhou Hongxu incommunicado as it was feared he could flee the country or collude with other suspects. The man was suspected of violations of the National Security Act, reports said.
In Beijing, the Taiwan Affairs Office questioned the motives for the detention. Spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said it was suspicious that the case was surfacing just as “Taiwan Independence forces” were complaining about the gravity of Chinese infiltration in Taiwan. He accused the island’s authorities of first interfering with normal academic interactions between Taiwan and China, and then of creating issues with Chinese students.
National Chengchi University in Taipei said Zhou began his studies in business administration in 2012 and graduated last year. His teachers and colleagues had not noticed anything wrong with the student, a university spokesman said, though he had mentioned on his application that he was a member of a Communist youth group.
The Ministry of Justice later said he had left Taiwan last August but later returned, mentioning business as the reason for his visit.
Zhou had reportedly been collecting sensitive information, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said, though it did not reveal what kind of information he was interested in. He had reportedly contacted schools and government departments in an effort to obtain confidential data. Zhou had also tried to recruit people to collect information on his behalf, reports said.