Taiwanese prosecutors are seeking a 12-year term against senior military officer Hsiang Te-en who not only accepted money to spy for China but also signed an alleged letter of surrender.
According to Channel News Agency, Hsiang was recruited by a retired military officer, who is identified as Shao Weiqiang. The pair met at a wedding reception in 2017 when Hsiang was thinking of retiring after 35 years of serving in the army. Shao persuaded Hsiang to remain in the force to provide intelligence services to the Chinese regime for money.
More specifically, Hsiang was told to promote “peaceful reunification,” a Beijing rhetoric in reclaiming Taiwan.
Hsiang was promised $1,300 in monthly payments, which Radio Free Asia pointed out was half the usual salaries Taiwan’s military officers received per month. Besides money, Shao also enticed Zhang with promotion chances.
Accepting the offer, Hsiang signed a letter in which he pledged loyalty to the motherland (Beijing’s reference to the mainland). In case of a war, Hsiang promised to dedicate his service to the Chinese.
The letter reads, “In the event of a war between the two sides of the strait, I will do my best to serve the motherland in my job and complete the glorious peaceful reunification mission.”
Hsiang also took a picture with his recruiter, sporting a military uniform while holding the letter bearing his signature. At that point of his recruitment, the colonel was also the deputy brigade commander. He became Director of the Army Infantry Training Department in May this year.
Overall, prosecutors say Hsiang received up to $18,000 for his four years of treason. He is being charged with corruption and harming state security, and faces up to 12 years behind bars.
Prosecutors also suspect that Shao had requested Hsiang to spy on three high-level military officers. But they lacked evidence as Shao said China did not specifically task Hsiang to prey on the men.
In Taiwan, military officers could face a death sentence or life imprisonment for surrendering to the enemy. However, legal sources told CNA that such punishments only apply if a war is about to begin. The colonel only pledged allegiance to China in a potential future war, which is not enough to go after Hsiang for surrendering to Beijing.
Taiwan has long tried to counter China’s influence campaigns to weaken its armed forces and create dissension among the ranks. China has increasingly pushed to reclaim Taiwan and has never abandoned its intention to use force.