Taiwan Busts Alleged Espionage Ring Tied To Chinese Intelligence
Chinese Spy Recruited By Bribe
In a bizarre fusion of ancient game and modern espionage, Taiwanese authorities have arrested Lu Chi-hsien, a renowned diabolo coach, and four military veterans suspected of operating a spy network for China. Diabolo, a two-headed top thrown and caught on a string stretched between two sticks, has taken a sinister turn in this international spy drama.
According to Taipei Deputy Head Prosecutor Tsai Wei-yi, Lu was recruited by Chinese intelligence officers who offered him money to exploit his connections, gather classified information, and develop an espionage network. In a scheme that appears to be straight out of a spy thriller, Lu allegedly searched for desperate military personnel near bases, frequenting pawnshops and loan sharks to find recruits.
The arrest of Lu and his four associates, two ex-military personnel identified only as Lee and Chang and two women named Lin, demonstrates China's changing spying strategy against Taiwan.
"China has shifted the focus of its spying efforts against Taiwan to the 'enticement' of lower-ranking personnel in need of cash," Tsai explained. The recruitment network Lu allegedly developed consisted of "more than 10" individuals.
This unusual case takes an even stranger twist, as Lu had previously used his position in the Republic of China Diabolo Federation to run fraudulent operations. However, after receiving a five-year jail sentence, Lu never showed up to serve his term and had been on the run since March.
According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang, the case came to light through concerned reports from soldiers and officers and has now been passed to national security investigators. Sun praised the effectiveness of Taiwan's counterintelligence education, citing the active reporting of suspected espionage by military personnel.
China's espionage operations have begun to specifically target soldiers in financial difficulties, according to Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Wang Ting-yu.
"In the past we had beautiful women selling betel nut outside air force bases, or specific people recruiting from the army to steal information," Wang said, as he was quoted by media reports.
"Now, they are using soldiers and officers who may be having money troubles," he added.
Institute for National Defense and Security Research military analyst Su Tzu-yun said that Chinese spies have infiltrated every aspect of life in Taiwan. Beijing recruits its spies using a variety of methods, from "honey traps" involving attractive individuals to financial incentives and threats. Su also noted the innovative use of betel nut sellers and food stalls near military bases for intelligence collection.
Recent counterintelligence efforts have led to several victories, with a former colonel jailed for spying for China in February, and an indictment of three former legislative aides for trying to access President Tsai Ing-wen's medical records on behalf of China's state security police in August 2020.