TAIPEI: Taiwan has detained three active-duty officers and a retired air force officer on suspicion of spying for China, Taipei Central News Agency reported, a case that points to the extent of Beijing spying on its much smaller neighbor.
The former officer left the army in 2013 and started doing business in China, where he was recruited to set up a spy ring, the semi-official media said, without saying where he got the information.
Prosecutors suspect he recruited six officers and was paid between NT$200,000 ($6,510) and NT$700,000 through a front company, CNA reported Wednesday evening. He and three officers serving in the air force and navy were detained in the southern city of Kaohsiung, and three other active officers were released on bail.
Taiwan has struggled to eliminate spying on its military by China, which has far more resources. The United States – Taiwan’s biggest military backer – has long worried about the self-governing island’s ability to keep technology and other secrets out of Beijing’s hands.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in November that Chinese espionage posed a “serious threat”. The comments came as authorities launched an investigation into an infantry officer for allegedly taking NT$40,000 a month from China to gather intelligence and surrender if a war broke out, CNA reported earlier.
The espionage problem affects the highest levels of the Taiwanese military. Former Vice Defense Minister Chang Che-ping – once Taiwan’s third most senior military official – was investigated in 2021 over concerns over contact with a spy ring Chinese.
He was cleared and became a witness in a case that led to the indictment in June of espionage of a retired general and lieutenant colonel.
The United States is stepping up military support for Taiwan, which last year detected some 1,700 fighter jet incursions into a sensitive air defense identification zone and more than 660 vessels in nearby waters. In December, US lawmakers accepted a $1.7 trillion spending bill that authorizes up to $10 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.

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