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Global Times

Exposing Taiwan spying a warning, not a prelude to war: observers

Global Times

By Fan Anqi and Deng Xiaoci Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/13 21:55:40

Three consecutive days of media exposure of hundreds of espionage cases involving spies from the island of Taiwan serves to warn Taiwan separatist forces, rather than a prelude to the use of force in efforts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, observers said on Tuesday.

In a special operation dubbed Thunder-2020 Crackdown, Chinese mainland state security authorities have foiled hundreds of such espionage cases involving Taiwan spies who carried out malicious activities against mainland, attempting to disrupt cross-Straits exchanges and resist the reunification of China.

Major cases detailed by state media in the past two days show that the forms of such spy activities range from academic exchanges to business activities.

Cheng Yu-chin's case serves as a typical one that collected information under the guise of academic exchanges, while sowing discord between China and other countries. By taking advantage of his post in Europe, Cheng established a think tank in the Czech Republic, underlying his intention to spy on the mainland, and instigate betrayal among mainland personnel to work for them.

Another figure arrested in this crackdown, Lee Meng-chu, is an active member of a Taiwan separatist group who concealed his espionage activities by posing as a businessman, and was later arrested for interfering in Hong Kong affairs during the 2019 turmoil.

"Spies gather intelligence in the mainland by means of interpersonal contact, taking advantage of the shared language and cultural background," Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"It is hard for ordinary people to detect spies during their daily work and lives. They usually conceal their intentions at first, while gradually luring and coercing them with bribes under the guise of academic exchanges or business events," Li noted, adding that colleges, research institutes, and non-governmental organizations could become the main targets of espionage.

Analysts pointed out that intelligence agency mainly targets three aspects. They appoint spies to poke at the mainland's military strengths and economic interests. There is also a surge in collusion with other separatist forces since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stepped into office.

This year's operation has revealed the close ties between secessionist forces in Hong Kong and Taiwan, with spies in Taiwan feeding off and sponsoring Hong Kong activists that caused much chaos, Yang Lixian, a research fellow at the Beijing-based Research Center of Cross-Straits Relations, told the Global Times on Tuesday, citing Lee's case, which jeopardized national security in Hong Kong.

Some media that answer to the Taiwan separatist green campers had interpreted with fear that such intensive exposure served as a run-up to public opinion before the mainland turns to use force for reunification, media reported.

Some even used the term "double threat" to refer to the mainland's recent moves, including the crackdown and the amphibious landing drills conducted off the southeastern coast, spreading panic among the local community.

However, Li believes that the moves are not a prelude to the use of force, as some media speculated, or an indication of a shutdown of peace and stability across the Straits.

The combination moves would send a warning to the DPP while revealing their malicious intentions to seek Taiwan secession. It also serves as a reminder to mainlanders to stay alert to spying activities.

National security authorities also carried out Thunderbolt 2018 crackdown two years ago, which has identified more than 100 espionage cases.

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