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International relations

Taiwan ex-deputy defense minister probed for China spy contacts

Chang Che-Ping denies discussing official matters at dinners

An Indigenous Defense Fighter jet and Wan Chien air-to-ground cruise missiles are seen at Makung Air Force Base in Taiwan's offshore island of Penghu.    © Reuters

TAIPEI -- Taiwan authorities have begun an investigation into the former No. 3 member of its defense ministry over allegations of having contacts with a Chinese spy and leaking secrets, it was learned Wednesday.

Former deputy defense minister Gen. Chang Che-Ping, who served in the position until June, is the highest-ranking official in recent years to be probed over spying allegations.

Multiple local media outlets reported the development Wednesday. The Taiwan Taipei District Prosecutor's Office said the same day that a related matter was currently under investigation, but that it would not comment on the reports.

Chang was deputy defense minister for two years since July 2019. An individual named "Xie" reportedly visited Taiwan from Hong Kong multiple times at the orders of the Chinese Communist Party under the disguise of business, and dined repeatedly with Chang and other defense officials.

Reports said Xie is connected to China's Central Military Commission, the country's supreme military policy-making body led by President Xi Jinping.

Xie allegedly invited Chang's wife to a Hong Kong trip and arranged the stay, although Chang maintains the trip was paid out of their own pockets.

Following the reports, the Taiwan defense ministry said in a statement that it had "actively reinforced anti-espionage education" for soldiers and their families, and that it was "effective in countering infiltration by enemy spies and protecting national security."

Chang, who assumed the position of National Defense University president on July 1, told local media that during his long military career, he "cultivated the habit of not revealing details about his job during conversations with outsiders." He said he avoided discussing official matters in order not to create any misunderstandings. Chang has promised to cooperate with investigators.

Neither the ministry nor Chang have denied that Chang had contact with the individual named Xie. Chang has not been detained.

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