Three days before Taiwan’s presidential election, Australian media reported that defected Chinese spy Wang Liqiang was contacted by a Chinese businessman and a senior member of Taiwans’ Kuomingtang (KMT) party who coerced him into retracting his previous confession about working as a spy for China, and swap it for a new version that would implicate Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of corruption. The directives aimed at swaying the outcome of the presidential election.
The Chinese businessman, named Sun Tianqun, contacted Wang on Chinese social media and said he acted on behalf of Alex Tsai, a former legislator and a current deputy secretary of Taiwan’s pro-Beijing Kuomingtang (KMT) party. Wang was offered rewards if he complied with their directives, according to a Jan. 8 report from Australian media The Age.
The report also revealed that Wang was threatened that he could be sent back to China and killed unless he publicly retracted his story and co-operated with the two men.
Wang fled to Australia to seek asylum late last year. In a series of interviews with Australian media outlets in November, Wang detailed Beijing’s plan to influence Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election and promote communist infiltration in Hong Kong and Australia through its extensive local espionage networks. Wang also exposed his supervisor in the spy network, Xiang Xin, who is also an executive director of Hong Kong-based China Innovation Investment Ltd.
Online Chat History and Inducements Exposed
According to Australian media reports, Chinese businessman Sun Tianqun asked Wang Liqiang on Chinese social media WeChat to retract his story of working for the Chinese regime as a spy and change it to another version, saying that he was bribed by Taiwan’s DPP into making up the whole story about how Beijing planned to influence Taiwan’s presidential election.
Alex Joske, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, posted on Twitter part of the WeChat exchange between Wang and Sun. Their conversation, according to the dates shown on screenshots, took place on Dec. 29 and 31.
Sun initiated the conversation using the old-fashioned ice-breaking method. After Wang added him as a new contact, Sun greeted Wang, saying, “I think we might have met in Shanghai.”
When Wang declined his request for a video chat—because Wang’s child was sleeping at the time—Sun had to continue typing on WeChat. “I am entrusted by KMT to contact you,” he wrote.
On Dec. 31, Sun forwarded to Wang three promises on WeChat that were allegedly made by KMT official Alex Tsai: 1) China will remove Wang’s arrest warrant and will not make trouble for him when he applies for foreign residency in the future; 2) [KMT will arrange to have] some Taiwan businessmen help Wang repay the debts he owes in China so that his father and elder sister will not be implicated; 3) [KMT will make sure] China does not impose a heavy punishment on Wang, and Wang will be allowed to enter and leave China freely.
Fake Confession Script
Sun forwarded Wang a prepared script which Wang was supposed to record himself reading it in front of a video camera so it could be aired as a public confession.
“The video to be recorded goes like this,” Sun’s message said, followed by the script:
“Initially, I simply wanted to make up a spy story so that I could apply for political asylum in Australia. Subsequently, I met with a person in Australia assigned to meet me by Taiwan DPP official Chiu Yi, who asked me to contact [Australian] media and expose that China started to meddle with Taiwan elections since 2017 by mobilizing internet trolls, and continued its infiltration in the 2018 Taiwan 9-in-1 elections. Han Kuo-yu, the KMT presidential candidate for the 2020 election, was given a political donation of 20 million yuan. The person who contacted me promised that after the 2020 Taiwan presidential election, Taiwan’s DPP will give me a huge sum of money, and will make arrangements for me to apply for political asylum in Australia or settle in Taiwan.”
Wang was also instructed to recant allegations he made against businessman Xiang Xin and his wife Kung Ching who Wang claimed to be his supervisors while he worked for the Chinese regime’s spy network. Wang alleges that both Xiang and Kung are intelligence officials with close ties to China’s military.
Below is the script that was given to Wang with regards to Xiang and his wife Kung:
“With regard to Xiang Xin, he is simply an acquaintance whom I met once or twice. The reason I accused them [Xiang and his wife] of being my spy accomplices is that they are the only super rich and high-status figures within my network. I implicated the couple as my supervisors in my spy story to make my story sound even better. I hereby express my apology to boss Xiang and his family.”
On Nov. 24, 2019, Xiang and Kung were arrested by Taiwan’s investigators at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei as the two tried to leave the country and fly back to Hong Kong. The couple is currently under investigation for espionage activities and barred from leaving Taiwan.