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Chinese man held incommunicado for alleged espionage

ROC Central News Agency

2017/03/10 19:07:05

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) The Taipei District Court on Friday detained a Chinese man incommunicado who has been accused of trying to gather classified information, in violation of Taiwan's National Security Act.

The man, identified as Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭), is accused of having obtained information from schools and government offices, and also of allegedly trying to recruit other people in an effort to develop a spy network, investigators said.

Zhou studied in an MBA program at National Chengchi University between 2012 and 2016. He left Taiwan in August 2016 after graduating.

He re-entered Taiwan in his capacity as a businessman, according to Justice Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三).

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said the government will not target Chinese students in the wake of Zhou's case, but will tackle the issue "from a broad perspective."

"The preventive measures will include building an internal defense system," he said.

The premier said there are many signs that the other side of the Taiwan Strait is adopting a similar approach.

"We must review our current system," the premier said, pointing out that combating espionage does not only involve classified information, but also industrial spies.

"We must find out if there are any blind spots that we've failed to notice," he said.

The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top China policy-charting body, said that the policy of welcoming Chinese students to Taiwan remains unchanged, but it called on these students to focus on their studies and not engage in unlawful activities.

MAC Minister Chang Hsiao-yeh (張小月) declined to comment on the case, saying only that "Taiwan, as a society ruled by law, will deal with anything that violates national security according to the law."

Meanwhile, National Chengchi University was taken by surprise by Zhou's case.

Wang Wen-chieh (王文杰), chief secretary of the university, said the school had asked the assistants and staff of the Office of Student Affairs about Zhou, and was informed that he did not act strangely, either in his studies or during extracurricular activities.

Wang said that the school accepts Chinese students through written screening, adding that some departments or graduate schools interview potential Chinese students via video conference or telephone.

But if Chinese students come to Taiwan with other purposes in mind, it is difficult for schools to detect them during the screening, Wang said.

He said that Zhou entered information regarding his taking part in the Communist Youth League of China during his admission, but added that the school does not treat students differently based on religious faith or political stance.

According to Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), there are between 32,000 and 33,000 Chinese students in Taiwan for advanced studies or short-term study programs.

(By Chu Tze-wei, Chen Chun-hua, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Lilian Wu)

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