Whatever their political beliefs or party affiliation, candidates in next year’s elections in Taiwan must be made aware of the potential for Chinese intelligence collection against them.
Terry Gou, chairman of Hon Hai Precision, is now one of the contenders for the presidency in Taiwan’s January 2020 elections. Having made that decision, Mr. Gou is no longer simply a private citizen or the owner of one of the largest firms in the world — he is now a strategic asset whose fate has become tied to that of state matters. And as with any other candidate, China’s intelligence apparatus will now seek to collect as much intelligence as possible about the politician’s views, the people that he meets, and where he travels.
With that in mind, this: On May 3, China Review News (CRN, 中國評論通訊社) published a news article about Gou’s private jet as the presidential hopeful was traveling in the U.S. The article seemed innocuous enough, discussing the technical virtues of the Gulfstream 650 (Gou owns three), the meals served on board, the seating arrangements, Mr. Gou’s bed, the “meeting room,” service personnel, flight crew, and so on. We also learn that the CRN Washington reporter was allowed on board, where he took dozens of photographs; twenty of them accompany the article, showing a pilot, flight attendants, and various areas of the aircraft, including the cockpit. The reporter was even allowed on a flight from Washington, D.C., to Milwaukee.
What makes this incident worrying is the fact that CRN isn’t just an ordinary media. In fact, the Hong Kong-based publication, which has been operating in Taiwan since October 2007, is suspected of being associated with the China Association for Promotion of Chinese Culture (CAPCC, 中華文化發展促進會), a key platform of the Political Work Department (中央軍委政治工作部) under the Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by Xi Jinping. The CAPCC is actively involved in the promotion of a cross-strait “peace accord” and “re-unification.”
Speaking to young Chinese in December 2017, the CRN’s special correspondent in Washington and author of the aforementioned news report on Mr. Guo’s aircraft, observed that while one enjoys “more freedom” reporting abroad, “China’s journalists must make China’s national interest their top priority and always reflect the position of the Chinese nation.” Make of this what you will.
“China’s journalists must make China’s national interest their top priority and always reflect the position of the Chinese nation.”
Over the past decade, CRN has also been involved in various cross-Strait develolpment forums promoting unification as a co-sponsor alongside the CAPCC and a good number of other suspected PLA/intelligence-linked arms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), such as China Huayi Broadcasting Corp (CHBC, 中國華藝廣播公司). Most, if not all, cross-Strait development forums have received extensive coverage in CRN. Guo Weifeng (郭偉峰), president of CRN, has also been a prominent figure at such development forums and a vocal supporter of cross-Strait unification. Late last month, for example, Guo published a “special article” in CRN titled “The Meaning of Xi Jinping’s National Renaissance Thought and the Concept of Cross-Strait Reunification” (習近平民族復興思想與兩岸統一理念的內涵特點). Guo Weifeng has also appeared alongside such figures as Xin Qi (辛旗), a former deputy director of the PLA General Political Department Liaison Department, the PLA’s key political warfare command (since January 2016 under the CMC’s Political Work Department). Xin is also a former president of the CAPCC (the post is currently filled by Wang Zhengwei 王正伟).
According to its web site, CRN has a presence in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung, as well as Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Seoul.
The publication has benefited, in Taiwan and elsewhere, from the lack of awareness about its ties to the Chinese military apparatus and role as both an instrument of information warfare and, possibly, in gathering intelligence for the CCP.
The possibilities which were given rise to by this contact, from identifying persons close to Mr. Gou to the planting of listening/video devices on the would-be candidate’s personal aircraft, cannot be ignored and will need to be evaluated by the state security apparatus.
Given this, and as a result of Mr. Gou’s new role as a politician and possible future president, it is imperative that his security staff, along with Taiwan’s intelligence apparatus, apprise the businessman of the need for enhanced security and provide him with the wherewithal to ensure his every move and meeting aren’t being monitored by the Chinese. This begins with making certain areas off-limits to individuals and organizations that are suspected of working on behalf of the Chinese intelligence apparatus — a consideration that, I might add, should be extended to every and all of the potential candidates in the coming election.
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