(Analysis) Taiwan: Enhanced Bilateral Ties Spur Chinese Espionage

2006 photo of former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian riding past one of Taiwan’s E-2K Hawkeye early warning aircraft. A Taiwanese Air Force captain was arrested in March 2012 for passing classified information about this plane to China

2006 photo of former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian riding past one of Taiwan’s E-2K Hawkeye early warning aircraft. A Taiwanese Air Force captain was arrested in March 2012 for passing classified information about this plane to China

Summary

Successful Chinese recruitment of high-level Taiwanese military leaders for espionage demonstrates a systemic counterintelligence challenge and an inherent weakness in Taiwan’s state security apparatus. A series of recently publicized examples of intelligence and military penetrations underscore the double edge sword of Taiwan’s desire to enhance bilateral relations with Beijing while protecting its core strategic national security interests.

China’s main espionage target has focused on military technologies, most of which have been exported to Taiwan from the United States. Internal security failures and unsuccessful counterintelligence by the Taiwanese has likely increased tensions between Taipei and Washington, its strategic ally and largest military benefactor.

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