As relations improve between Beijing and Taipei, military morale still continues to fall as fewer Taiwan military officers see a future in an ever-shrinking armed forces. Many are beginning to cash in on their intimate knowledge of military secrets, including classified information on US military equipment.
Over the past several years, Taiwan military officers have sold China information on the E-2K Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and PAC-2 anti-ballistic missile systems, Hawk air defense missile system, and the Raytheon Palm IR-500 radiometric infrared camera.
Taiwan defense sources said that on the Taiwan side, China has collected all the data needed to compromise the Po Sheng C4I upgrade program and the Anyu-4 air defense network upgrade program, Shuan-Ji Plan (electronic warfare technology project), and the Wan Chien (Ten Thousand Swords) joint standoff weapon.
A common anecdote used by the Western media suggests China uses a “grains of sand” or “mosaic” approach to collecting intelligence. That is, China collects intelligence from a broad effort by low-level, often amateur, sources to form an overall picture. However, Chinese efforts in Taiwan indicate otherwise.
The mosaic theory is a common misperception, said Peter Mattis, a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. “As far as operational techniques, I think the breadth of alleged and proven approaches by Chinese intelligence demonstrates [the usage of] oriented professionals, not the amateur free-for-all that most analysts use to describe Chinese intelligence operations.” Mattis also discovered that the majority of Taiwan spy cases from 2004 to 2011 were cash-driven and not ideological.
Mattis, who wrote the 2012 book, “Chinese Intelligence Operations Reconsidered: Toward a New Baseline,” said the recent case of retired Vice Adm. Ko Cheng-sheng shows the myriad of Chinese spy agencies chasing Taiwan targets.
Ko, formerly deputy Navy commander in 2003, was sentenced to 14 months for violating the National Security Act this month. Ko spied for China from 1998 to 2007 after being recruited by a Taiwan businessman who introduced him to members of the United Front Work Department and “Shanghai City No. 7 Office.” Ko is accused of providing China with the military’s Gu’an Combat Plan for the defense of Taiwan and Penghu.
“In addition to the Ministry of State Security and Second Department of the People’s Liberation Army [PLA] General Staff Department, Taiwanese doing business in the People’s Republic of China will find the PLA’s General Political Department, the United Front Work Department, and any of the local level state security elements” all vying to recruit them, Mattis said.