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Taiwan lawmaker voices concern over weapons developer traveling overseas

National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology was unaware of 15 trips to Hong Kong by key employees: DPP legislator

A drone developed by the NCSIST.

A drone developed by the NCSIST. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Taiwanese lawmaker voiced security concerns Wednesday (Oct. 16) over staff at defense developer National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST, 中科院) traveling to Hong Kong and other sensitive destinations.

The Ministry of National Defense-related institute is the main domestic developer of sophisticated weapons systems, from missiles and drones to the Indigenous Defense Fighter or IDF. A total of 15 staff members involved in confidential work at the Taoyuan City-based institute had traveled to Hong Kong, while three others had visited Cambodia, according to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟).

Responding to doubts by the lawmaker about the NCSIST not being aware of its staff’s trips, Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said there was no cause to worry about national security implications, though the ministry would reflect on the issue. He added that the institute had 2,137 employees involved in confidential projects.

Chao said it was not known whether the staff members had traveled on to other destinations, while the institute was simply completely unaware of their foreign trips, the Central News Agency reported. The issue was the result of the NCSIST taking down the information about personnel’s travels last May, and only reintroducing the data in September at the insistence of the National Immigration Agency (NIA), Chao said.

In the intervening period, NIA data showed that 302 overseas trips by staff members with knowledge of sensitive information had taken place. The DPP lawmaker pointed out that all Ministry of National Defense employees had to report their travel plans, and wondered why that was not the case at the NCSIST, CNA reported.