China’s espionage warfare is a serious issue.

The Ministry of National Defense collaborated with the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office and allegedly found that a lieutenant colonel surnamed Hsieh (謝) from the army’s Aviation and Special Forces Command planned to defect to China. It is alleged that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) offered Hsieh a tremendous amount of money — US$15 million — and Hsieh was planning to fly a CH-47F Chinook helicopter to the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong near the median line of the Taiwan Strait. Reports also said that a deposit of US$1 million to US$2 million was offered beforehand, and if Hsieh’s action triggered a war in the Strait, Hsieh and his family could leave Taiwan for Thailand with valid visas.

It sounds like a spy movie plot, but it is Taiwan’s reality. If Hsieh had carried out the plan and defected to China, it would have been an enormous scandal. Moreover, it would have deeply damaged the morale of the armed forces, and Taiwanese might have lost all their trust in the state. Hsieh’s case cannot be taken lightly as a mere aberration.

Apart from Hsieh, it is alleged that the National Defense University’s (NDU) Advanced Systems Engineering Research Center, directed by the NDU’s own associate professor Ger Ming-der (葛明德), has been in contact with the CCP. It is alleged that Ger set up a private company to conduct technical cooperation with China and he has visited China many times. In charge of some industrial sectors crucial to the supply chain and technological integration, Ger collaborated with China through his private company. He might have been exploiting his research for private use and transferring it to the other side of the Taiwan Strait. Ger’s case should be dealt with seriously, not only because he is making a profit for personal gain, but also because he is selling Taiwan’s intelligence to China. Ger has jeopardized our national security.

In the past few years, the CCP has encroached on Taiwan through military activities. If those activities are carried out in broad daylight, they are not difficult to manage, but if everything is conducted under the table, such as infiltration and intelligence gathering, it is harder to find out and pre-empt. If, unfortunately, the CCP succeeded in executing its plans, the reputation of the Republic of China armed forces would be destroyed.

The way to get rid of this problem once and for all is to implement education based on loyalty and patriotism. As long as every soldier can act loyally and patriotically from the bottom of their heart, the possibility of being corrupted could be minimized.

Facing with the CCP’s new forms of intelligence and spy warfare, we must quickly adjust and enhance our counterintelligence organizations and operations. This is an urgent task. No matter how much high-quality advanced weaponry we purchase, we would lose the battle if the enemy already knew the performance parameters and deployment situation.

Air force pilots currently receive the highest pay and the best benefits in the military, but even if they are treated quite well by the state, that pilot might be co-opted by the CCP. Apparently, how China carries out its espionage plans and gathers intelligence today exceeds our imagination. The armed forces cannot afford to be complacent anymore.

In March this year, a soldier swam from Kinmen to China, and now a lieutenant colonel of the Aviation and Special Forces Command was allegedly co-opted. These two cases are warning signs. At this critical moment, the military must conduct a comprehensive investigation and clean up the communist spies.

Chang Yan-ting is a retired air force lieutenant general and an honorary emeritus professor at National Tsing Hua University.

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