Hong Kong firm executives stopped at Taiwan airport amid spy probe

2019/11/25 21:02 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big

Wang William Liqiang (Image from 60 Minutes Australia YouTube channel)

Taipei, Nov. 25 (CNA) Two executives with a China-funded company in Hong Kong were stopped by investigators at Taoyuan International Airport on Monday for questioning over allegations by a self-confessed Chinese spy that their firm was helping Beijing control Taiwan media.

China Innovation Investment Ltd. CEO Xiang Xin (向心) and alternate board member Kung Ching (龔青) were being questioned by the Investigation Bureau under the Ministry of Justice (MJIB).

As of Monday night, however, it was unclear where Xiang and Kung were and which agency in Taiwan was holding them.

The company, which is publicly listed in Hong Kong, confirmed the matter in a statement and said Xiang and Kung have hired Taiwanese lawyers to provide legal assistance.

China Innovation Investment has been implicated as a player in China's efforts to undermine Hong Kong's democratic movement and affect Taiwan's elections by Wang William Liqiang (王立強), a self-proclaimed Chinese spy who is seeking asylum in Australia.

Wang told Australian media that he went to Australia's counter-espionage agency in October with intelligence on how China's senior military intelligence officers funded and conducted spying operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.

A big part of his story was related to the role of China Innovation Investment.

He claimed that shortly after being employed by China Innovation Investment in Hong Kong in 2014, he found it was not a normal company, and was later told by Xiang after entering the company's inner circle that Xiang came to Hong Kong on secret intelligence missions.

Wang also alleged that China Innovation Investment was established by the People's Liberation Army with a mission to "infiltrate Hong Kong's financial markets and collect military intelligence."

In addition, he said China Innovation Investment has injected funds into Taiwan's media sector and established secret alliances with some television stations to give China control over them and censor the news.

The Hong Kong-based company said in its statement Monday that Xiang and Kung were unaware of any accusations by Wang and denied that he has ever been an employee of China Innovation Investment.

Up to now, Wang's true identity has yet to be independently confirmed. Though he insists he was a spy for China, Shanghai police say Wang was convicted of fraud in 2016 and was now an unemployed fugitive.

But his allegations voiced to Australian media led the MJIB and National Security Bureau to investigate them further and have been highlighted by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party as evidence of China's infiltration into Taiwan and intervention in its elections.

On Monday, Wong Yen-ching (翁衍慶), a former deputy director of the Military Intelligence Bureau under Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, argued that Wang was a fraud and that he was making up his story to gain political asylum.

Having worked in intelligence for 35 years, the retired military general raised several questions at a press event held by the KMT in Taipei, including why the Australian government would allow a defecting intelligence agent to be put under the media spotlight when normally such persons are protected from such exposure.

"Obviously the Australian government does not trust Wang, so he turned to the media," Wong speculated, expressing hope that a fraudulent political asylum case will not cause political disputes in Taiwan.

The KMT has urged the relevant authorities to find out the truth behind Wang's allegations as soon as possible to prevent them from affecting the upcoming presidential and legislative elections in January.

Meanwhile, the Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs said Monday that Xiang applied in December 2016 to invest in Taiwan on behalf of China Innovation Investment, but the application was denied in April the following year out of national security concerns.

In Australia, the Department of Home Affairs declined CNA's request to comment on the Wang case, saying a probe will be conducted based on the latest information, relevant laws and international codes.

(By Liu Shih-yi, Wang Cheng-chung, Chiu Te-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)Enditem/ls


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