Intelligence: December 8, 2003

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On November 26, Taiwan arrested another of their intelligence officers, 42 year old Major Chin-yang Pai, and accused of him of spying for China. Pai grew up in Hong Kong, but has worked for the Taiwanese army since the early 1980s. Pai speaks the Cantonese dialect of southern China and worked overseas with Chinese communities outside of the China. These "overseas Chinese" have been an important element in China's rapid economic growth since the communist government of China decided to adopt a market economy in the 1970s. Overseas Chinese businessmen had the entrepreneurial and management skills China needed to build a market economy. These Chinese, despite coming from families that had not lived in China for generations, still spoke Chinese and were familiar with Chinese customs. For centuries, Chinese have moved to foreign countries for better economic opportunities, or because they were in trouble back home. In many parts of the world, the Chinese had an advantage over the locals in terms of work ethic, business skills and entrepreneurial spirit. While there was some intermarriage, children of Chinese fathers were almost always raised in the Chinese language, and customs. This was more the case in countries that were hostile to outsiders (even if they brought with them economic progress and prosperity.) While many Chinese-Americans don't speak Chinese any more (especially if their families have been here for several generations), this is the exception in the Chinese immigrant experience. The overseas Chinese who took their skills, and capital, back to China usually became wealthy doing so, and made many contacts in the Chinese government. The Taiwanese realized that these overseas Chinese could be a good source of information on what was going on in China. Although many Taiwanese (considered by China as another "overseas Chinese" community) set up businesses in China (despite Taiwanese and Chinese laws against it), the "legal" overseas Chinese businessmen were considered a better source of information. Major Pai had a successful career mining contacts among the overseas Chinese. But then he got involved in stock market speculation and lost a lot of money. Chinese intelligence knew of Major Pai, and offered to make good his losses if he would work for them as well. Major Pai agreed, and got caught when his superiors, who knew of his stock market reverses, discovered that this financial damage had suddenly been fixed. Both China and Taiwan have hundreds of intelligence agents working in both countries, and among overseas Chinese communities. Both countries arrest the other sides agents when they can, or try to turn them. Ideology is less and less a factor, while money is increasingly the offer the other sides agents cannot refuse.

 


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