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Chinese executives barred from leaving Taiwan amid spy probe

Christian Fernsby |
Two executives with a China-funded company in Hong Kong were released after being questioned by prosecutors but have been barred from leaving the country pending further investigation into related spying allegations.

Article continues below



Topics: CHINESE    EXECUTIVES    TAIWAN    SPY   

China Innovation Investment Ltd. CEO Xiang Xin and his wife and alternate board member Kung Ching were stopped for questioning as they were departing Taiwan's main airport Sunday over allegations by a self-confessed Chinese spy that their firm was helping Beijing control Taiwan media.

They were then referred to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Monday night for further investigation.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office said Tuesday that Xiang and Kung have since been released but are currently barred from leaving the country pending further investigation into the case.

They have also been listed by prosecutors as formal suspects in the case on suspicion that they violated the National Security Act by illegally developing an official organization for another country.

According to prosecutors, Xiang and Kung denied all allegations against them during questioning.

Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung said, meanwhile, that the overseas travel restriction on Xiang and Kung is merely a judicial response and not a political action.

He did not provide any information on the case, saying that the government was still looking into the matter.

Critics have accused the government of keeping the two executives in Taiwan for political gain, hoping to get an additional boost for its anti-China message in presidential and legislative elections about 45 days away.

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, a self-proclaimed Chinese spy who is seeking asylum in Australia.

There has been no way to confirm whether or not Wang is in fact a Chinese spy.

Australia has said his claims are being taken seriously while Beijing has described him as a convicted fraudster.

An analyst in Australia who has helped media there investigate Wang's story is skeptical of Beijing's assertions. The analyst said Wang has claimed "he obtained a police check from the Chinese government for his Australian visa application" that was issued in February 2019 and found he had no criminal record.

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.

China Innovation Investment applied to establish a real estate and investing consulting company in Taiwan in December 2016, but its application was rejected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs because of the company's dealings with China's military, in particular on arms development.

The company then filed an administrative appeal to the Executive Yuan, but the appeal was rejected on national security grounds.


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