A Chinese operative was so successful in influencing Taiwan’s municipal elections in favor of candidates including Han Kuo-yu in 2018, he was given the task of interfering with the upcoming presidential elections with the aim of unseating President Tsai Ing-wen, the man told Australian media.
Wang Liqian decided instead to risk his life by defecting to Australia, The Age newspaper reported today, November 23.
Wang has offered “a trove of unprecedented inside intelligence” on how the Chinese government conducts political interference operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia, the newspaper reported.
“Our work on Taiwan was the most important work of ours,” said Wang, who preceding last year’s “nine in one” elections, infiltrated media, religious, and grassroots organisations.
Wang said that he helped Chinese intelligence agencies to build a “cyber army” to help shift political debate and the fortunes of candidates.
Mr Wang worked for a Hong Kong-listed company that acted as a front for Chinese Communist Party operatives. China Innovation Investment Limited (CIIL) infiltrated Hong Kong’s universities and media organizations. Wang claims to have played a part in the Hong Kong bookseller kidnappings in 2015, and the doxing of Hong Kong protest supporters earlier this year.
Speaking of last year’s Taiwan election campaign Wang said: “In Taiwan we had many places – restaurants and IT companies – which we either acquired or funded.”
CIIL invested in Taiwan media companies and “built covert alliances” with TV stations, The Age reported, citing food manufacturing and media conglomerate Want Want as a major ally.
“We also controlled media, like buying their ads to propagate the trend, and let them report in favour of those candidates we were supporting,” said Wang.
Want Want owner Tsai Eng-meng had a very close working relationship with Wang’s boss at CIIL, Wang claimed. His boss, Xiang Xin, is a senior intelligence operative, Wang said.
Wang said that they influenced media to give positive attention to Beijing-favored politicians including current KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu.
“With the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party/KMT) candidates we … gave them full support,” Wang said.
CIIL also donated money to temples, organizing trips for their followers to tour China and influence them with United Front propaganda.
“As a result, we had a huge win … and it was a glorious record,” Wang said.
Wang’s wife was living and studying in Australia along with the couples’ 2-year-old son while Wang was busy in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Wang wanted to spend more time with his son, but his success in influencing the 2018 elections led to him being tasked with interfering with the upcoming Taiwan presidential elections January 2020, with the ultimate aim of unseating President Tsai Ing-wen.
Earlier this year, Wang received fake identity papers including a Korean passport with which he was to travel to Taiwan.
Wang was faced with the prospect of working with “Taiwan’s black society” – the triads, and also risked being caught by Taiwan’s counter espionage authorities.
Wang chose instead to escape. Wang flew to Sydney April 23 on the pretext of visiting his wife and son, but had no intention of ever going back, or ever seeing his parents and grandparents again.
A statement Mr Wang provided to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) last month reportedly states: “I have been personally involved and participated in a series of espionage activities.”
Wang is seeking political asylum in Australia, believing that if he returns to China “I will be dead.”
Wang expressed his hope that his public comments will energise the fight for human rights and democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Read the full interview in The Age.
President Tsai-Ing-wen responded to the news today while on the campaign trail in Hualien City. Tsai said that China’s intentions to influence Taiwan’s elections are very obvious. Every important election has the shadow of Chinese interference.
The people of Taiwan have built a democratic system through years of joint efforts, and the Taiwanese people must be vigilant to not let China destroy our democratic achievements.
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