Taiwan security chief blames trip leak on Huawei surveillance tech at Thai airport

Details of another official trip by a former military chief to Honolulu were leaked in the United States.
By Raymond Chung for RFA Mandarin
2022.10.06
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Taiwan security chief blames trip leak on Huawei surveillance tech at Thai airport Taiwan’s national security director Chen Ming-tong, shown in this file photo, told the legislature the social media post was a form of pro-China "cognitive warfare."
AFP

Equipment manufactured by Chinese tech giant Huawei -- which is obliged to aid the authorities in matters of national security -- has been linked to the leaking of sensitive information about a visit to Thailand by Taiwan's intelligence chief, officials said on Thursday.

National security director Chen Ming-tong told lawmakers in Taipei that recent social media posts leaking sensitive details of his stay in Bangkok.

A Twitter account using the handle @andreny45652235 tweeted on Sept. 12 photos allegedly taken of Chen at the airport, along with an official customs document and a hotel bill. The same post was also shared on Facebook.

Taiwan's Legislative Council called on Chen to respond.

Chen told the legislature that the social media post was a form of pro-China "cognitive warfare," and pointed to the widespread use of Huawei equipment at the airport.

"This information was sourced from a temporary website, which is very similar to the methods used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the past," he said. "It's clear that this is a form of cognitive warfare."

He said Taiwanese intelligence had been advised that there could be security breaches linked to Huawei equipment at the airport.

"We saw surveillance cameras, and they were basically all made by Huawei," he said, promising to stop further leaks.

"We will work hard to ensure this kind of thing can't happen again," Chen told the Legislative Yuan's foreign affairs committee. "It can't happen again."

Investigations launched

The committee also questioned political warfare chief Yang An regarding a similar leak linked regarding an official visit by his predecessor Chien Shih-wei to Honolulu in September.

"The preparations for the itinerary were also leaked. We have set up a task force to look into our operational procedures ... and investigated who leaked the information and how," Yang said.

"Our investigation found that the itinerary [of Chen's trip] was leaked during an administrative visit to the United States," he told the committee.

"If there have been any illegal activities, these will be punished according to the law."

Responding to recent comments from CIA director Bill Burns, Chen said Taiwan's intelligence services generally regard 2023, 2025 and 2027 as potential years in which China could invade the democratic island.

"We take each of those possibilities seriously," Chen said. "The most important thing is to make it clear to the CCP that it can't win if it tries to take Taiwan by force."

"They will suffer economic boycotts and sanctions and diplomatic isolation that would have an impact on their so-called project, 'the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation'," he said.

"They should be very careful and not start such a war lightly."

Chen said Taiwanese intelligence fully expects CCP leader Xi Jinping to win a third term in office at the 20th National Congress of the CCP, which opens in Beijing on Oct. 16.

"Xi's first two terms were legitimate, and the third is controversial, but he will carry on amid that controversy," Chen said.

Chen's comments came as Alexander Gray, a former White House national security council chief of staff, arrived in Taiwan as a guest of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), under the island's ministry of defense.

Gray will be in Taiwan for one month to discuss research topics with academics from the institute and share his research insights, Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

The INDSR’s mission is to "safeguard Taiwan's democracy and prosperity" by directing the government on national security, defense policies, and regional security, it said.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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