China seeks Taiwan spy for computer hacking


TAIPEI, Taiwan — China is seeking an alleged Taiwanese spy who purportedly hacked into sensitive government computer systems on the mainland, a Chinese newspaper has reported.

The government-run Global Times said Tuesday that Lee Fang-rong, said to be an agent of Taiwan military intelligence, planted “Trojan” programs in computer systems belonging to unnamed economic, military and diplomatic institutions to steal classified information.

A trojan program gives a user remote access to the contents of his target’s computer.

The Global Times attributed its information to an unidentified official in a “related” Chinese department. It did not identify the department but the implication was that it was part of the Chinese intelligence apparatus.

The newspaper said that Lee was in Taiwan, but that he had previously been in Moscow, where he might have carried out the hacking.

China has recently come under fire from Germany, Britain and the United States for alleged hacking activities of its own. Unidentified officials in the three countries say government and military networks there have been broken into by hackers backed by the Chinese army.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Wednesday said it had taken note of the Global Times report and that it was collating additional details on the affair.

“We have noticed related reports,” said spokesman Yang Yi. “For years, Taiwanese intelligence agencies have stolen secret network information on a broad scale from the mainland and caused vile consequences.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense would not comment on the Global Times report, which was summarized in the island’s China Times newspaper on Wednesday.

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949. Despite having close economic relations, a long running political standoff between the sides continues, and they maintain active espionage operations against each other.

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian – who leaves office next year – says his eventual goal for the island of 23 million people is formal independence. China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, insists it would respond to such a move with military force.