Taiwanese general 'spied for Chinese'

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Taiwan has detained a major-general on charges of providing military secrets to China, the defence ministry said yesterday. Analysts said he may have compromised a vital military communications network that uses US technology.

The case is the most serious Taiwanese spy scandal in decades and could make the US reluctant to share military technology with the country.

The Defence Ministry said Lo Hsieh-che, who headed the army command's communications and information office, was recruited by the Chinese as a spy in 2004 when he was a military attaché based overseas. Yu declined to provide additional details, saying the military was investigating the case.

Local media said Lo was based in Thailand before returning to Taiwan in 2006. Citing unidentified sources, the Liberty Times said Lo passed classified information to his Chinese contact but their communications were intercepted by Asian-based US intelligence officials.

It was reported prosecutors had seized confidential documents while searching Lo's office. Some allegedly contained details of Taiwan's air-defence system that the country is buying from US defence contractor Lockheed Martin for about $1.6bn (£1bn). It was reported the project allows the Taiwanese military access to US intelligence systems which would be of obvious interest to the Chinese.

Eric Shih, an editor with Taiwan-based Defense International, said Lo's position would have given him access to information on the system.

"The Chinese are believed to be most interested in the sophisticated command system," he said. "They wish to gain knowledge about it so they can design their own or interfere and undermine the Taiwanese system," he said.