Taiwan spying case: Taipei arrests three ex military officials on suspicion of leaking information to China

Two members of the Taiwan Navy honour guard fold up Taiwan's national flag during a ceremony in the capital Taipei on July 28, 2012.

Taiwan has arrested three former military officials on suspicion of spying for China, the Agence France-Presse reported, though Beijing has denied any knowledge of the alleged case.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Lt. Col. Chang Chih-hsin was suspected of “spying for officials at the Communist Party in China” and “bribing other officers in the navy for illegal gains” while working in the Naval Meteorological & Oceanographic Office, which provides mapping data for the military.

Chang, who retired earlier this year, allegedly collected “classified information” which he “turned over to unidentified Chinese handlers,” the Voice of America reported.

The Associated Press said Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has denied media reports that the information related to “secretive submarine nautical charts or war plans.” 

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council in Beijing said it had no knowledge of the case, the state-owned Global Times reported.

Warming economic ties between Beijing and Taipei have not melted the deep mistrust that exists between the two sides, which have been governed separately since the end of the civil war in 1949.

China still claims Taiwan as a part of its territory and has vowed to pursue reunification, by force if necessary. Beijing and Taipei, along with Tokyo, also have rival claims to a chain of islands in the East China Sea known as Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.

There have been numerous spying scandals involving China and Taiwan over the years, but Taipei legislators described this latest incident as one of the worst cases of espionage, the AFP said.

More from GlobalPost: China and Taiwan: from enemies to frenemies