Taiwan leader warns of spy risk of Chinese "tourists"

China Featured - April 1st, 2013

Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou has warned that improved relations between Beijing and Taipei is making the island vulnerable to Chinese spying.

In a turnabout from his pro-Beijing campaign, Ma said Chinese spying on Taiwan has intensified as cross-strait relations began to ameliorate and that the rise in Chinese visitors meant “higher security risks”.

Closer ties with China had led to “occasional incidents” of secrets being leaked, he said in an interview with Financial Times, but claimed the situation was “under control”.

“Such breaches of security, which have increased in number, do serve as warning,” said Ma, adding that Taipei continues to face cyber attacks from the mainland.

Tsai Der-sheng, director of Taiwan’s main intelligence agency, said Chinese hackers were targeting Taiwan’s infrastructure, including its financial system, and corporate secrets, Financial Times reports.

Ma, however, said the attacks would not stop Taiwan seeking more trade and service liberalization deals with China.

Ma had sought closer economic integration with the mainland in a bid to improve cross-strait ties after being elected in 2008. Since then, tourists from the mainland flocked to Taiwan. Last year, more than 2.5 million Chinese tourists visited the island.