An Old Tai­wan Spy, Drift­ing Like Flot­sam

Chi­nese Na­tive, Jailed for 13 Years in Shang­hai, Is One of Scores Seek­ing Com­pen­sa­tion From Taipei

The Washington Post Sunday - - World News - By Ed­ward Cody

HONG KONG, April 7 — iang Jian­guo was no James Bond. As a spy for Tai­wan, he ac­knowl­edged, his big­gest ex­ploit was get­ting a map of the Shang­hai port. But he did what he was told by his Tai­wanese spy­mas­ters and spent 13 years in Shang­hai’s Ti­lan­qiao Prison af­ter Chi­nese coun­teres­pi­onage agents caught him in a sting.

Now, the Chi­nese na­tional said in a lengthy in­ter­view here, he be­lieves that Tai­wan’s gov­ern­ment owes him for the risks he took and the time he served. Specif­i­cally, he said, he wants back salary for the long jail stretch, a de­cent monthly pen­sion and a res­i­dence visa al­low­ing him to live out the rest of his life in Tai­wan. As for the where­abouts of his miss­ing wife and daugh­ter, he said, he is will­ing to con­sider that wa­ter over the dam as far as Tai­wan is con­cerned.

Tai­wan has re­jected his de­mands, how­ever, and Jiang, a gaunt 73, has be­come a piece of col­lat­eral dam­age in the shadow war be­tween the Chi­nese and Tai­wanese intelligence agen­cies. Along with dozens of other Chi­nese re­cruited by Tai­wan and im­pris­oned for es­pi­onage over the years, he has been left drift­ing like flot­sam since his re­lease, de­spised as a traitor by his own gov­ern­ment and dis­missed as too de­mand­ing by the Tai­wanese gov­ern­ment.

Jiang’s two-year ca­reer as a spy — one chap­ter in a life ripped apart by China’s tu­mul­tuous re­cent his­tory — pro­vides a rare glimpse of the re­lent­less es­pi­onage be­tween main­land China and Tai­wan. Al­though China is the world’s most pop­u­lous coun­try and Tai­wan only a lit­tle is­land 100 miles off­shore, each gov­ern­ment is the other’s main intelligence tar­get. In par­tic­u­lar, each de­votes large amounts of hu­man and fi­nan­cial re­sources to ob­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion on the other’s mil­i­tary ev­ery year.

Jiang, once an as­set but no longer use­ful in the spy war, spent most of March in Taipei dun­ning the Tai­wan Mil­i­tary Intelligence Bureau for what he be­lieves he is due. Af­ter 26 days and sev­eral tense meet­ings, he said, the Tai­wanese es­pi­onage agency said it con­cluded that Jiang has no claim on such fi­nan­cial sup­port and no right to a res­i­dence visa. Jiang said a se­nior bureau of­fi­cial told him as much Wed­nes­day and or­dered him not to speak pub­licly about his work for the ser­vice, warn­ing that un­der Tai­wanese law he could be jailed again if he did.

“I told them, ‘I was your man then, and I should be your man now,’ ” Jiang said, heed­less of the warn­ing. “What kind of a gov­ern­ment is that? I was very dis­ap­pointed.”

The Tai­wanese spy agency, re­spond­ing to an in­quiry, said it had de­cided Jiang was in­el­i­gi­ble for ben­e­fits be­cause he had never been a full-time Tai­wanese De­fense Min­istry em­ployee and that the gov­ern­ment had ful­filled its obli­ga­tions with pay­ments that Jiang said to­taled $36,000 to help meet med­i­cal ex­penses af­ter his

Jre­lease from prison in 2001.

With re­gard to Jian­guo’s case, “the Mil­i­tary Intelligence Bureau has al­ready made com­pen­sa­tion ac­cord­ing to his rel­a­tive rights and in­ter­ests, in De­cem­ber 2001,” the spy agency said in a state­ment is­sued in Taipei. “In con­sid­er­ing Jiang’s sit­u­a­tion and based on the old-time fel­low­ship, the bureau did what­ever it could to help him, ac­cord­ing to the reg­u­la­tions.”

Jiang said he got started in the es­pi­onage busi­ness with­out re­ally in­tend­ing to, and with­out re­al­iz­ing how cold-hearted it could be.

In the 1980s, he was run­ning a trad­ing com­pany based in Hong Kong. One of his money-mak­ing tricks, he said, was to buy silk gar­ments in China, re­la­bel them to in­di­cate they were made in the Philip­pines and ex­port them to Tai­wan, where Chi­nese-made goods were banned.

An alert cus­toms of­fi­cer in Tai­wan spot­ted the ruse in one shipment in 1985, how­ever, and Jiang risked los­ing a con­sid­er­able in­vest­ment. A friend with con­nec­tions to the then-rul­ing Na­tion­al­ist Party said he might be able to help, Jiang said, and soon a man showed up say­ing he could fix the prob­lem if Jiang would agree to spy for Tai­wan dur­ing his fre­quent trips to the main­land.

“I agreed to sign up, be­cause I had no choice at the time,” Jiang said. “I wanted to re­solve the cus­toms is­sue as soon as pos­si­ble. They gave me a form to fill out. And I also took an oath,” he added, rais­ing his hand to show how he was sworn in. “It said I had to be loyal to the Repub­lic of China or else I would be heav­ily pun­ished and even my fam­ily mem­bers would be af­fected.”

Jiang had no ide­o­log­i­cal prob­lems with his new mis­sion. A sur­geon who had grad­u­ated from the Shang­hai Sec­ond Med­i­cal In­sti­tute, he was torn from his med­i­cal prac­tice dur­ing the Cul­tural Revo­lu­tion and sent from town to town do­ing me­nial work that at one point in­cluded clean­ing com­mu­nity toi­lets. Jiang’s “crime” was that his fa­ther, a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man who had fled Shang­hai for Hong Kong, was la­beled a re­ac­tionary.

“The bit­ter­est of the bit­ter, I ate it,” Jiang re­called of that tur­moil-rid­den era.

As the coun­try was re­gain­ing its senses un­der Deng Xiaop­ing in 1981, Jiang was al­lowed to leave the main­land, which he had been pe­ti­tion­ing to do since his fa­ther’s death in 1978. He ar­rived in Hong Kong, then a Bri­tish colony, but could not prac­tice medicine be­cause he could speak nei­ther English nor Can­tonese and had no way to qual­ify. So he picked up the pieces of his fa­ther’s busi­ness and be­gan the trad­ing that four years later led him to es­pi­onage.

Jiang said he gained pos­ses­sion of the Shang­hai port map and other in­for­ma­tion on mar­itime traf­fic in 1986 be­cause his com­pany was con­sid­er­ing in­vest­ing in a $40 mil­lion de­vel­op­ment project soon to be­gin there. When they learned what Jiang had ob­tained, elated Tai­wan intelligence agents flew him to Tai­wan and gave him a $4,000 bonus, he re­called.

In nor­mal times, Jiang said, Tai­wan’s mil­i­tary intelligence paid him $3,500 a month while he was in Hong Kong and $4,000 a month when he was trav­el­ing in the main­land.

Jiang said that dur­ing a busi­ness trip to Shang­hai in 1987, some busi­ness ac­quain­tances urged him to travel with them to Dalian, a north­east­ern Chi­nese com­mer­cial port that is also the site of a ma­jor naval base.

“They took me to a mil­i­tary port and asked me to take pic­tures,” he re­called. “At first, I re­fused to do so, be­cause there were signs on the fence say­ing no pho­tog­ra­phy by for­eign­ers. But they said it would be fine be­cause we were only tourists and we were Chi­nese. I was from Hong Kong, and Hong Kong was re­ally part of China, they told me.”

On his re­turn to Shang­hai, Jiang was ar­rested by Chi­nese Na­tional Se­cu­rity Bureau agents, who proudly called their catch “a big fish.” In the course of long in­ter­ro­ga­tions, they pro­duced pho­to­graphs show­ing him meet­ing with busi­ness and intelligence con­tacts in Hong Kong and even with intelligence of­fi­cers in Tai­wan.

“I sus­pected some of my busi­ness part­ners were their peo­ple,” Jiang said, re­call­ing his re­ac­tion at see­ing the pho­tos. “One of the in­ter­roga­tors said to me, ‘You have peo­ple inside us, and we also have peo­ple inside you.’ ”

On his re­lease from prison 13 years and four months later, Jiang was broke and un­sure of what had hap­pened to his fam­ily. He re­turned to Hong Kong and con­tacted the Chung Hwa Travel Ser­vice, which he said was act­ing as a de facto Tai­wanese em­bassy. Staff mem­bers rec­om­mended a cheap hos­tel but of­fered no money.

The hos­tel’s owner rec­om­mended he ap­ply for ben­e­fits to the Hong Kong So­cial Wel­fare De­part­ment, which has been sup­ply­ing him with about $390 a month ever since. Jiang said he bol­sters the wel­fare pay­ments by pick­ing up rub­bish and sell­ing it to re­cy­cling com­pa­nies. He also found time to found the Cross-Strait Re­la­tions Vic­tims As­so­ci­a­tion, a group of about 60 for­mer spies seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion from Tai­wan.

Al­though he has made in­quiries through the Red Cross, Jiang said he has been un­able to dis­cover any trace of his wife and daugh­ter over the last five years. They must have em­i­grated to an­other coun­try dur­ing his years in prison, he spec­u­lated.

“I also asked the Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties for help, but I got no re­ply,” he said. “I un­der­stand that my wife might have mar­ried an­other man and started a new fam­ily. She might not want to see me again. But what about my daugh­ter? Was she killed? Or where has she gone? I want to know.” Spe­cial correspondent Jane Rickards in Taipei con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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