Taiwan’s top intelligence agency yesterday confirmed that it has frequently spotted Chinese intelligence agents attempting to enter the country under the guise of visiting tourists or scholars to collect information.
National Security Bureau (NSB) Director Tsai Der-sheng made the comment in response to a question raised by Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Liu Shen-liang during a legislative hearing yesterday.
The KMT legislator asked Tsai to comment on whether the Chinese intelligence-gathering campaign against Taiwan continues to increase with the growing number of mainland tourists over the past few years.
”Many Chinese intelligent workers use false identities claiming they are visiting scholars or tourists to travel here,” Tsai said, adding that the situation is in fact quite common.
However, the NSB head did not give any further details, such as the exact number of espionage cases that have been discovered.
Tsai added that the bureau welcomes visitors from across the Taiwan Strait for travel. However, he also noted that the NSB will beef up national security measures in response to the increasing number of Chinese travelers in the country.
Taiwan is expected to lift its ban on visits by individual Chinese tourists in June in a bid to boost the tourism sector.
But the decision has caused further concerns over the risks to national security.
Meanwhile, during the same legislative hearing yesterday, lawmakers preliminarily approved an amendment to the National Intelligence Services Act to encourage spies to turn themselves in exchange of lighter sentences.
The amendment stipulates that local intelligence officers who are found to engage in information gathering for another country could be given litter sentences if they confess their crime during trials.
Intelligence agents who were forced to become spies but turn themselves in to the authorities before committing the crime of espionage will also be given shorter jail terms.