TAIPEI – A Taiwanese general detained in what could be the island's worst espionage case in 50 years was lured by sex and money offered by a female Chinese agent, media reported Thursday.
Army major general Lo Hsien-che was allegedly recruited while stationed in Thailand between 2002 and 2005, drawn in by a honeytrap set by the agent, then in her early 30s, said the China Times, citing unnamed sources.
“Lured by sex and money offered by the spy, Lo was recruited by China to supply top secret information he handled,” the paper said.
The woman, described by the paper as “tall, beautiful and chic,” held an Australian passport and initially pretended to be working in the export and import trade when she met Lo, who was already married, the paper said.
Lo, now 51, started to collect secrets for her in 2004 and received up to $200,000 at a time for his services, eventually pocketing as much as $1 million from China, it said.
Although he returned to Taiwan in 2005, Lo continued working for China and kept meeting the woman in the United States, where he handed over more confidential information to her, it added.
Lo had managed to keep his activities under wraps and pass repeated loyalty checks and was promoted to a major general in 2008, according to the paper.
He was head of the army's telecommunications and electronic information department when he was arrested last month, according to the defence ministry, which declined to comment on the report.
Military officials have called the scandal the worst Chinese communist espionage case in the past half century, given the sensitive affairs that Lo had access to.
“We do not know the relevant circumstances,” said a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing when asked to comment on the case.
China's state-controlled Global Times tabloid quoted Li Fei, a Taiwan expert at southeast China's Xiamen University, as saying the two sides of the Taiwan Straits are still actively spying on each other.
“Espionage activities have never ceased, even though cross-Straits tensions have eased over the years,” he said, adding agents no longer targeted only military secrets, but also economic and technological intelligence.
Taiwan's military, which has set up an ad hoc group for damage control, warns that China has not stopped infiltrating into Taiwan despite warmer relations in recent years.
Lo's arrest came amid fast-warming ties between Taipei and Beijing following the 2008 election of Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou as president.
Taiwan and China have spied on each other ever since they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war. Beijing still regards the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, if necessary by force.