BEIJING (Reuters) – China accused Taiwan’s spy agencies on Sunday of stepping up efforts to steal intelligence with the aim of “infiltration” and “sabotage”, and warned the island against further damaging already strained cross-strait ties.
The relevant agencies in Taiwan must end such activities immediately, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing An Fengshan, a spokesman for China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office.
State television kicked off on Saturday the first in a series of programmes detailing cases in which Chinese students studying in Taiwan are said to be targeted by domestic spies who lure them with money, love and friendship.
The allegations come as China ramps up efforts to encourage Taiwanese to settle in China permanently, offering new identity cards and other inducements.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement released at the weekend China has “framed a case” against Taiwan and refuted the accusations.
“The Mainland Affairs Council asks the mainland authorities not to politically manipulate mainland students studying in Taiwan and frame our personnel for engaging in espionage,” it said. Such a move would “further raise suspicion and misunderstanding across the strait”, it said.
Taiwan has warned its people to be careful of the risks involved living in an autocratic country with internet censorship and other drawbacks.
China and Taiwan frequently trade accusations of spying.
In 2017, a Chinese student studying in Taiwan was sentenced to prison for collecting sensitive information through contacts in Taiwan schools and government departments, and for trying to build a spy network on the island.
Taiwan started to allow Chinese students to study at its universities in 2009.
China sees democratic Taiwan as a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it to heel, a prospect of which Taiwan is often reminded, with Chinese warships and fighter jets periodically pressing close to the island.
It has also lured away some of the few nations with diplomatic ties to the self-ruled island in recent months.
But as Beijing further isolates Taiwan, Taipei is discreetly nurturing security ties with regional powers by sharing intelligence of Chinese military deployments, sources have told Reuters.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee in TAIPEI; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)