Kinmen locals shocked by claims army colonel swore to surrender to China

The Taiwanese island is the possible frontline of any Chinese invasion.
By RFA Staff
Kinmen locals shocked by claims army colonel swore to surrender to China Hsiang (right) shows his note of Surrender Commitment to China in Jan. 2020.

UPDATED AT 2:03 A.M. ET ON 11-23-2022

A Taiwanese army colonel on the frontline island of Kinmen has been accused of pledging allegiance to China and even promising, on the record, to surrender in the event of a Chinese attack.

Kinmen is an outlying archipelago less than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from China’s Fujian province but more than 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Taiwan’s mainland. In recent months it has seen frequent flyovers by Chinese drones, and military experts say Kinmen could be the first target of a Chinese invasion in the future.

The official Central News Agency (CNA) citing Taiwanese prosecutors reported that Col. Hsiang Te-en, 49, who held several important positions at the Kinmen Garrison Division and the Eighth Army Corps Operations Division until his suspension this year, was “recruited” to work for China for money totaling NT$560,000 (U.S.$18,000) since late 2019.

The recruiter, Shao Wei-chiang, is a retired journalist in Kinmen who also previously served in the army. An investigation into Shao’s alleged “collaborators” network is continuing.

Hsiang was seen in a photo wearing a Taiwanese army officer’s uniform and holding a note of “Surrender Commitment.”

The note says “I hereby swear to support the peaceful reunification of the two sides of the Strait and to be loyal to the motherland. 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.”

During questioning, Hsiang reportedly said he was not the only army officer who signed such a note. 

Hsiang was detained in September and charged with taking bribes in violation of the Anti-Corruption law that could lead to a prison sentence of up to 12 years. He is also being investigated for passing classified information to China and might face additional charges under the National Security Act.

A map showing Kinmen’s proximity to China.  CREDIT: Google Maps

‘Shocking case of treason’

“This is the most despicable treason,” Timothy Tsai, a Kinmen resident, told RFA.

“Really shocking!” said another resident, who wished to stay anonymous.

CNA quoted lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party as saying the case “exposed major negligence in the military's internal espionage prevention and detection system.”

In the past ten years, at least 21 serving or retired Taiwanese officers with the rank of captain or above have been convicted of spying for China, according to Reuters.

Taiwan’s Military Trial Act was amended in 2013 to eliminate military trials of officers in peacetime but Hsiang’s case has led to some calls to reinstate them in order to better deter espionage.

Anti-landing spikes on a Kinmen beach.  CREDIT: RFA

Kinmen has been in the spotlight since the visit to Taipei by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August as cross-Strait tensions rose and China conducted large-scale military drills around Taiwan.

There were talks about the risk of armed conflict at the time amid speculation that outlying islands such as Kinmen, Penghu and Matsu may be under threat.

Kinmen was a key battlefield at the beginning of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958 when Chinese troops fired nearly half a million artillery shells on the archipelago, which is roughly the size of Brooklyn.

Intrusions into Kinmen by Chinese drones, including suspected military unmanned aerial vehicles, occurred frequently in September and led to a presidential order to strengthen Taiwan’s drone defense systems.

This story has been updated to add the date Hsiang was allegedly recruited to work for China.


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