Taiwan has rejected a report by China Central Television (CCTV) claiming that a Chinese government initiative had “solved over 100 cases involving Taiwanese spies.”
A CCTV current affairs program that aired on Sunday night detailed what it said was a confession by a Taiwanese man, Morrison Lee (李孟居), who went missing in August last year after entering Shenzhen from Hong Kong on Aug. 20.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Sept. 11 confirmed that he had been detained, but it was not until Nov. 30 that Chinese media reported he had been arrested on Oct. 31 for involvement in "Taiwanese separatist" activities and his support for the "unrest in Hong Kong."
Photo: Chung Li-hua, Taipei Times
“This is China generating malicious political hype by falsely accusing Taiwanese of engaging in espionage,” the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said in a statement on Sunday evening. “[China is] destroying the cross-strait relationship, and interfering with Taiwan’s freedom, democracy and a society ruled by law.”
The National Security Bureau is monitoring the situation and would follow up on any developments that could threaten national security, the council added.
The “Thunder 2020” operation swept up Taiwanese spies and destroyed an espionage network deployed by Taipei, the CCTV program said, which showed Lee confessing that he shot 16 videos and took dozens of photographs of Chinese People’s Liberation Army exercises at a stadium in Shenzhen in August, at a time when anxiety about Chinese military intervention to quell unrest in Hong Kong was running high.
Lee was accused of “spying on state secrets for an overseas organization and endangering national security,” CCTV said.
He also shared the photographs in a chat group with several other Taiwanese, it said.
The segment included images of conversations on the messaging app Line between Lee and another Taiwanese man that the program identified as Archer Chen (陳亞麟), the mayor of Fangliao Township (枋寮) in Pingtung County.
Lee had ignored the “no photos” signs at the stadium, the report said, adding that the photographs he took and shared were later identified as containing Chinese state secrets.
The program said that Lee also supported Hong Kong protesters, as well as prepared and disseminated leaflets with the message that Taiwan supports the pro-democracy movement in the territory.
A national security officer from Guangdong interviewed for the program said Lee did so to “achieve personal political gains.”
The program ended with a warning to pro-independence Taiwanese forces who support Hong Kong protesters, saying they could be given prison terms ranging from three years to life if they are found guilty of contravening a sweeping National Security Law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in summer.
Asked about the accusations, Chen said: “Are remarks by an autocratic communist regime believable?”
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in a statement urged the government to come up with a way to allow innocent Taiwanese to return home as soon as possible.
The KMT said it hoped that Chinese government agencies would protect the rights of the parties involved, and handle cases with an open and transparent attitude and in a way that meets procedural justice.
The Taiwan People’s Party condemns the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for the arrests, spokesman Tsai Chun-wei (蔡峻維) said.
“The CCP has expanded its interpretation of the link being national security and spy activity. Now it not only denounces Taiwan and threatens it with military force, it also arrests Taiwanese who have not made any intelligence reports,” he said.
The arrests are not helpful to cross-strait relations and have only strengthened Taiwanese’s contempt for China, he added.
The Taiwan Statebuilding Party said that CCP claims of catching Taiwanese spies were a cover for engaging in psychological warfare against Taiwanese.
“This shows you cannot have dialogue with Beijing. All it takes is for someone to be considered a risk to the stability of the CCP’s authority, and regardless of who they are, they will be arrested on false charges,” it said.
Rather than trying to engage the CCP in dialogue, the government should amend legislation to eliminate Chinese spies operating in Taiwan, it said.
Last night, CCTV aired another segment, this time featuring Cheng Yu-chin (鄭宇欽), who claimed to be an aide to former DPP chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), confessing to spying and vilifying China.
“I know what I did was harmful to mainland China,” Cheng, who was arrested when he visited China last year, told the program.
Additional reporting by Sherry Hsiao, Aaron Tu and Hsieh Chun-lin
This story has been corrected since it was first published.
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