by WorldTribune Staff, March 13, 2017
Taiwanese national security authorities estimate that 5,000 Chinese spies are already operating Taiwan and have successfully infiltrated government administrative offices.
“As they have no mechanisms for reporting suspected espionage attempts, the risk of vulnerable civil servants being turned or compromised is substantial,” an official in the national security community told the Taipei Times.
Taiwanese authorities said about 80 percent of all detected incidents of Chinese espionage targeted the military. Taiwan’s military is better able to detect spying, through, as it has counterintelligence capabilities that are absent from the government’s administrative offices, the official said.
Government offices are primary targets as they are vulnerable and hold sensitive information regarding technological research and development, diplomatic policies and cross-strait affairs.
“The main issue for governmental administrative offices is that civil servants have low awareness [about espionage] and the offices lack their own information security systems to protect them from communist spies, beyond the ‘ethics units’ putting in double shifts,” the official said.
The official cited the detention last week of Zhou Hongxu on suspicion of espionage as evidence that Chinese agents have compromised government offices, the Taipei Times reported on March 13.
Zhou graduated from Taiwan’s National Chengchi University’s MBA program in 2016.
Zhou allegedly attempted to “recruit Taiwanese officials working in ministry or department-level organizations in the central government on a long-term basis,” and confidential information entrusted to multiple governmental agencies and employees of educational institutions has been compromised, the official said, citing knowledge of the investigation.
The official said added that Chinese agents have also “exploited cross-strait exchange channels” to approach and cultivate specific individuals of Aboriginal descent for recruitment as assets or agents.