POLITICAL RISK: Taiwan¡¦s diminishing capability
could create chances for Beijing to pressure Taipei into political talks or use
force to achieve its objectives, the report says
By William Lowther / Staff reporter in Washington
Despite warming cross-strait ties, China continues to engage in ¡§aggressive
espionage activities¡¨ against Taiwan, says a report to the US Congress.
In the past year alone, Taipei officials have arrested five former military
officers for spying.
One of these cases is particularly damaging, involving a former Taiwanese navy
commander who is suspected of selling classified submarine nautical charts and
other information about the waters surrounding the nation to China.
¡§These cases underscore the breadth and depth of China¡¦s espionage activities
against Taiwan and demonstrate Taiwan¡¦s vulnerability to Chinese espionage,¡¨ the
report says. A draft copy of the annual report by the congressionally appointed
US-China Economic and Security Review Commission has been obtained by the Taipei
Times. The final report will be formally released later this month.
Former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director William Stanton is quoted in
the report as saying that espionage cases have been harmful not only because of
the loss of classified information, ¡§but also because their success and
frequency serves to undermine US confidence in security cooperation with
Other AIT officials told the commission that the Chinese espionage threat to
Taiwan was ¡§a real concern¡¨ and that the US had raised it with Taiwan ¡§at the
The draft report also says that China conducts extensive cyberoperations against
the government and corporate networks. For example, the report says, China
targeted the publicly accessible Web sites of Taiwan¡¦s National Security Bureau
3.34 million times last year.
By way of defense, Taiwan is increasing its budget for cyberwarfare, integrating
it into the nation¡¦s routine training exercises and adding a fourth unit to the
Communication Electronics and Information Bureau. In addition, Taiwan is
building an experimental facility that will simulate cyberattacks on the
nation¡¦s critical infrastructure to help train cyberdefenders.
The report says that warming ties between China and Taiwan are raising concerns
for Washington and Taipei. Increasing cross-strait economic integration breaks
down barriers and ties Taiwan closer to China, the draft report says.
¡§This could strengthen Beijing¡¦s bargaining power over Taipei and allow Beijing
to make progress toward its long-term goal of unification,¡¨ it says. ¡§Responding
to these concerns, officials from Taiwan¡¦s National Security Council insisted to
the Commission that Taipei¡¦s economic engagement with Beijing is carefully
calibrated to promote both Taiwan¡¦s economic growth and continued autonomy.¡¨
Nevertheless, the report stresses that counterintelligence risks to Taiwan and
US military information in Taiwan are increasing as cross-strait ties expand and
Chinese citizens visit in greater numbers.
¡§Chinese intelligence agencies now have greater access to Taiwan and better
opportunities to conduct intelligence operations against Taiwan[ese] citizens
both in Taiwan and China,¡¨ the report says. ¡§As the cross-strait military
balance of power continues to shift in China¡¦s favor, Taipei may seek to develop
closer political ties with Washington and to acquire additional US arms and
related military assistance.¡¨
It concludes: ¡§Taiwan¡¦s diminishing ability to maintain a credible capability
could provide incentives and create opportunities for Beijing to take on greater
risk in its approach to cross-strait relations, including pressuring Taipei to
move toward political talks or using military force to achieve political