The first spying case involving a mainland Chinese student studying in Taiwan has recently come to light. Zhou Hongxu, who was studying at a management research institute, infiltrated Taiwanese schools and government departments to spy and search for official secrets. He was caught and detained by the Taipei District Prosecution on charges of violating the National Security Act.
Although Taiwanese authorities believe that this is an isolated case, the incident has launched a widespread debate around national security and the rights of mainland Chinese students.
Another student from mainland China was recently interviewed by Taiwan’s World Magazine. Zhao Minsheng (a pseudonym) revealed that the influx of students from mainland China has reached a critical mass, and that there are some who are professional students who have been recruited by the Chinese Communist Party to monitor students’ activities and to access secret information in Taiwan. Mainland students in Taiwan are living in fear of being monitored, but feel that they have nowhere to turn for help.
He said that when he returned home to China for the holidays, the authorities knocked on his door with knowledge of his activities at school in Taiwan, as well as his participation in other activities outside of the classroom. Zhao Minsheng believes that the authorities became aware of his actions through a campus-wide information system.
Several other mainland students who are studying social and cultural courses also faced similar situations. A student who took part in the same interview said that Chinese authorities threatened mainland students, saying such things as: “I know what kind of books you borrowed from the library, I know what kind of assignment you submitted.” These occurrences have convinced Zhao Menshing that there are professional students among the Chinese student body on campus, and he is now living in fear, even within Taiwanese society.
Zhao understands that this fear is due to the oppressive and controlling Chinese Communist Party. In order to protect himself, Zhao has decided to avoid all contact with students from mainland China. He realizes that they are a very complicated group of individuals and that he needs to be very careful when interacting with them. Zhao said that on most days, he worries that speaking in class or participating in activities will cause tension with either the mainland or local students because of the clashes between their differing world views.
He believes that Chinese students face similar tensions not only in Taiwan, but also in the U.S. and other countries. Mainland students studying in Taiwan have to tolerate these restrictions on their freedom, which are human rights abuses. They are very troubled, but until now, they have felt that they couldn’t turn to the Taiwanese government for help.
Zhao ends the interview by saying that he is very happy to see the government finally reviewing the situation, and he hopes that this will help to prevent the entry of professional students into Taiwan, ensuring that honest students from mainland China can study peacefully and enjoy their time freely.
Translated by Chua, B.C . and edited by Kathy McWilliams.