Three former aides to Taiwanese legislators exposed as spies for China

Men siphoned off confidential information at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mainland Affairs Council

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Lee Yi-chien. 

Lee Yi-chien.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Three Taiwanese men who have worked for three separate ruling and opposition party legislators between 2014 and 2018 were taken into custody Thursday (June 17) on espionage charges, with one released on bail.

According to media reports, the three siphoned off confidential information about personnel appointments and the minutes of meetings through local political reporters. This information was then passed on to Chinese officials over the course of four years.

To achieve their ends, the men treated the correspondents, who were mainly responsible for covering the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), to dinners. The correspondents were reportedly unaware of the scam but, even so, provided useful information.

One of the suspects, Lee Yi-chien (李易諴) worked for Chang Li-shan (張麗善), a Yunlin County magistrate who served as a Kuomintang (KMT) legislator between 2016 and 2018. Another, Chen Wei-ren (陳惟仁), worked for KMT legislator Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) between 2014 and 2018 as an office assistant. The third, Lin Yun-ta (林雍達), was employed by Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) from 2014 to 2018.

Investigators were tipped off about the spy ring by an individual said to be familiar with the matter. The former legislators have all expressed surprise and disappointment upon hearing about the situation.

One of Taiwan's highest-profile espionage cases was Chinese student Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭), who enrolled in a National Chengchi University MBA program in 2012. He later returned to Taiwan in 2017 to develop a spy network under the pretense of being a management investor.

Zhou was given a 14-month sentence in 2017 for violating the National Security Act and has completed his jail term. He is still in Taiwan.

New Party members Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠), Lin Ming-cheng (林明正) and Hou Han-ting (侯漢廷) have also previously been indicted for violating the National Security Act.