Book by Taiwan ex-spy chief outlines PLA espionage outfits
PLA's mysterious 'No 6 Bureau' takes the lead in spy war against island
A book by a former Taiwanese intelligence chief claims to have uncovered Beijing’s covert organizations to infiltrate the island as well as its elaborate schemes to goad Taiwanese diplomats into treason.
Lieutenant-General Wong Yen-ching, a former deputy chief of Taiwan’s Military Intelligence Bureau, is the author of The Communist Party of China Intelligence Organization and Spy published at the end of last month.
His book claims that the People’s Liberation Army’s cyberspace unit known as the “No 6 Bureau” based in the central city of Wuhan was specifically tasked with gathering and researching the flood tide of intelligence gathered from Taiwan, including the huge numbers of satellite images and aerial photographs taken by Chinese spy satellites and the PLA’s reconnaissance planes.
No 6 Bureau was also behind a number of cyberattacks to infiltrate the mobile, broadband and public switched-telephone networks run by Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and FarEasTone to tap calls and intercept messages and Internet data, according to Wong.
Wong has gone so far as to accuse some key No 6 Bureau divisions of operating under the cloak of research centers and labs under the umbrella of the prestigious Wuhan University.
From their war room in Wuhan, he wrote, these units also run three large eavesdropping stations located along the coast of the southeastern province of Fujian, which is separated by a shallow strait from Taiwan that is some 130 kilometers wide at its narrowest point.
The bureau is under the command of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission and takes the lead in gathering intelligence for espionage and cyber-warfare against the self-governed island seen by Beijing as its wayward province.
Working in tandem with the Wuhan and Fujian teams, another Shanghai-based branch of No 6 Bureau keeps tabs on the Taiwanese military. It is responsible for long-distance “stakeout” surveillance operations targeting key military sites and installations throughout the island.
Wong wrote that No 6 Bureau also maintained and updated digital files of all Taiwanese military personnel of the colonel rank and above, including information as specific as place of residence, educational background and family members.
He suspected that the army of PLA hackers contributed greatly to these profiles.
Another case revealed in the book involved a Taiwanese diplomat-turned-general who was goaded into spying for Beijing by agents from the PLA’s Taiwan Special Division.
Lo Hsien-che, a military attaché to the island’s de facto embassy in Bangkok from 2002 to 2005, maintained behind-the-scenes contacts with Chinese agents during his stint there. Lo was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011.
The book is seen as part of Taiwan’s counter-accusation to Chinese media’s renewed propaganda war about Taiwanese spies and the threats they pose, a joint bid led by the state broadcaster China Central Television to whip up public sentiments against the island.
In several news episodes aired nationwide in evening primetime last month, CCTV accused Taiwanese intelligence of using sex and “honey traps” to recruit mainland students and researchers and extract state secrets from them.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry soon hit back, stressing that Taiwan was on the receiving end of an espionage war waged by China.