The arrest of Taiwan’s Major-General Lo Hsien-che on charges of spying for Beijing pours cold water on the warming cross-Straits ties of the past couple of years. Lo was detained on January 27th on suspicion of passing on intelligence about U.S. arms sales and tactical military communications, according to the Ministry of National Defence in Taipei. Local media reports say that during raids on Lo’s home and office, investigators seized documents on the Po Sheng military communications system Taiwan is buying from U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, a proposed purchase of Apache helicopters from Boeing and and maps of the army’s underground fiber-optic cables.
China and Taiwan have long spied on each other but the 51-year-old Lo is the highest-ranking Taiwanese officer to be allegedly involved in espionage on Beijing’s behalf since the 1960s. He was reportedly recruited by China in 2004 while stationed in Thailand as a military attache and has been under suspicion of being a spy since last year. He was most recently head of the military command’s communications and information office. The question now is less what damage this will do to Beijing-Taipei relations than what damage it has done to U.S.-Taiwanese military intelligence cooperation, given the access Lo had to classified information about command, control and communications systems development.