Couple at center of China spy-ring allegations found in Taiwan and exit-restricted

The director of a Hong Kong-listed company who was named as an alleged high-level Chinese intelligence operative in an explosive media expose in Australia a few days ago was stopped at Taoyuan International Airport Sunday night, and has been restricted from leaving the country after being interviewed by prosecutors.

Xiang Xin (向心) and his wife Gong Qing (龔青) were named by Wang Liqiang as the heads of a front company working for the Chinese intelligence service, during a media interview by Nine News Network, Australia.

According to Wang’s allegations, China Innovation Investment Limited (CIIL) had acquired or funded “many places – restaurants and IT companies” and had invested in Taiwan media companies, exerting an influence on last year’s election reporting to favor pro-Beijing candidates against the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party.

CIIL had been established by staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Wang claimed.

Wang also alleged that CIIL director Xiang Xin had a “very close working relationship” with Want Want media group owner Tsai Eng-meng. Want Want is a dominant player in Taiwan’s media industry and has long been suspected of acting as a pro-Beijing mouthpiece.

Wang Liqiang. Picture: The Age/Sydney Morning Herald.

Coincidentally, while the aftershocks of Wang’s explosive allegations were rattling the media and political establishments in Australia and Taiwan, the Hong Kong couple named by Wang were actually in Taipei City.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs Investment Commission said, yesterday, Monday November 25, that Xiang had made and application to invest in Taiwan on behalf of CIIL in December 2016, but the application was rejected due to national security concerns, CNA reported.

However, Taiwan’s Mirror Media reported today that Xiang is believed to have “stealthily” invested a lot of money in Taipei’s financial center and upscale neighborhood, Xinyi District.

The couple had been visiting Taiwan every month in recent years, according to the report. Xiang Xin, 56, was particularly interested in conferring with real estate tycoons and spiritual masters, while his wife, Gong Qing, 50, enjoyed Taiwan’s cosmetic surgery and beauty industry, which allowed her “to stay young forever” with better technology and value for money than available in Hong Kong.

On Sunday evening, the couple were stopped at the immigration counter of Taipei Taoyuan International Airport as they were attempting to leave the country. The couple were interviewed by the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB), and then transferred to the Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office.

From 9:30pm last night, prosecutor’s questioned the couple on suspicion of violating the National Security Act. Xiang and Gong, were then released at around 1:20am this morning, with the proviso that they are restricted from leaving the country while the investigation continues.

Upon their release, Xiang and Gong, went to the 5-star Hyatt Regency Hotel to rest.

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