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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

Taiwan seeks Australia help probing ‘spy’ claims

Taiwan seeks Australia help probing ‘spy’ claims

Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice said its prosecutors would ask Australia for help in probing claims and revelations made by self-confessed Chinese spy Wang Liqiang, aka William Wang.
Taiwanese papers said a letter had been sent to Australia’s Office of Attorney-General requesting a transcript of Wang’s comments given to Australian authorities on his role in Beijing’s bid to influence Taiwan’s elections, reportedly under an assumed identity and with a South Korean passport to run local operatives in efforts to meddle in the 2018 municipal elections and in presidential polls due next month.

The letter also asked for information pertaining to China Innovation Investment Ltd executive director Xiang Xin and his wife, acting director Kung Ching, whom Wang accused of being a “handler” to infiltrate the Taiwanese society via a number of spies embedded on the island.

Taiwanese prosecutors also hoped that Australia would allow Taiwanese investigators to question Wang through online video conferencing. Yet since Taiwan and Australia don’t have a formal mutual legal assistance agreement, Canberra is not obliged to meet the request.

The Chinese defector is currently seeking asylum in Australia, staying in Sydney with his wife and an infant son on a tourist visa.

Based on Wang’s information, Xiang and Kung were intercepted for questioning by Taiwanese authorities before they could board a Hong Kong-bound plane at the end of last month. Both were released after questioning, but prosecutors barred the pair from leaving the island pending further investigation.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised about whether Wang, 26, is really a Chinese spy. There is no reliable confirmation of his identity and the veracity of the allegations about Chinese intelligence operatives inHong Kong, Taiwan and Australia that he revealed.

Wang reportedly gave identities of Beijing’s senior military intelligence officers deployed in Hong Kong as well as details of how they fund and conduct operations in the three jurisdictions. He also claimed he was involved in the 2015 abduction of one of five Hong Kong booksellers who were taken to the mainland and interrogated on suspicion of selling dissident materials.

Wang also said he had met a high-ranking intelligence operative he believed was conducting spy operations in Canberra via a front company in the energy sector. He said Beijing aimed to fund a Chinese-Australian businessman to stand in election to be a “spy MP” inside the Australian parliament to feed Chinese agents intelligence.

China has tried to paint Wang as an unemployed fraudster and fugitive, but there are growing calls in Australia to grant him political asylum.
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