Spy arrest a warning to Taiwan on China ties

Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:37am EST
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By Jonathan Standing and Michael Martina

TAIPEI/BEIJING (Reuters) - The arrest of a Taiwanese general accused of spying for China is a warning to Taiwan to be wary of its old foe despite warming economic links that are likely to stay unscathed by the case.

The 51-year-old officer, Major-General Lo Hsien-che, is accused of collecting intelligence for Beijing for at least six years and is believed to be the highest-ranking Taiwanese military official accused of espionage for China.

The arrest has underscored the persistent distrust and military tension between Taipei and Beijing, despite the signing of landmark trade and tourism deals after Ma Ying-jeou was elected as Taiwan's president in 2008 and embarked on an effort to narrow the rift with China.

"Though the warmth of spring has come to the situation between both sides of the Strait, beneath the surface the undercurrents are as choppy as ever," Taiwan's United Daily News wrote on Thursday.

"National security authorities must draw lessons from this bitter experience and make sure it does not happen again."

Taiwan's government says Lo was recruited in 2004 while he was posted to Thailand.

Taiwan's freewheeling media, which never shies away from a scandal, has voiced surprise that such an apparently low-key man as Lo could have been a spy.

Lo was fond of health and fitness books, never demanded military underlings run errands for him and came from a military family, Taiwan's China Times reported.   Continued...