For more than 20 years, Xie Xizhang presented himself as a Hong Kong businessman on visits to Taiwan. He now stands accused of having another mission: recruiting spies for China.
On one trip in 2006, Xie met a senior retired Taiwanese navy officer, Chang Pei-ning, over a meal, according to official documents accusing the pair of espionage. Chang would become one of Xie's agents, the documents allege, helping him penetrate Taiwan's active military leadership as part of a long-running Chinese operation to build a spy ring among serving and retired military officers.
The Taiwanese officers and their families were allegedly lured by Xie's offers of all-expenses-paid trips abroad, thousands of dollars in cash payments and gifts such as silk scarves and belts for their wives. In June 2019, counterespionage officers moved against Xie's network, launching raids that uncovered further evidence, according to the documents, which were reviewed by Reuters. Now, Chang is facing espionage charges and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Xie. According to a person familiar with the case, Xie is not in Taiwan.