Chinese Plot To Steal US Chinook Helicopter

According to an indictment made public by lawmakers on Monday, the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors Office stated that the Chinese plotted to steal a US Chinook helicopter through a pilot now known by his surname Hsieh.

Chinese Plot To Steal US Chinook Helicopter 1

During a military exercise close to the island, prosecutors claim that a Taiwanese army pilot was given US$15 million to defect by bringing a US-made transport helicopter down on an aircraft carrier of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

However, the plan was derailed when the officer was detained in August on suspicion of spying for China, according to testimony given in a Taiwan court.

According to an indictment made public by lawmakers on Monday, the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors Office stated that the pilot, known by his surname Hsieh, was asked to fly the CH-47 Chinook helicopter onto the aircraft carrier in June by mainland Chinese intelligence agents via a retired Taiwanese army officer.

“According to the instruction from the [mainland] agents, Lieutenant Colonel Hsieh was asked to fly the helicopter at low altitude along the coastline to the Chinese Communist carrier which would be staging drills close to the waters 24 nautical miles [44km] off [Taiwan],” the indictment said.

The US sending F-35s to replace the aging F-15 interceptors stationed at Kadena Air Base on the Japanese island of Okinawa for future fights with China.

Prosecutors stated that in return, Hsieh would receive a monthly salary of NT$200,000 (US$6,355) and that in the case of a cross-strait conflict, the mainland would assist in evacuating his family to Thailand.

Hsieh first turned down the offer because it was too hazardous, but the indictment states that he eventually agreed to it when mainland agents increased their offer to US$15 million with a US$1 million “deposit” if he accepted.

Prosecutors claim that Hsieh also suggested that the PLA conduct the exercise in waters close to Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan, to avoid having to cross the Taiwan Strait’s median line, which divides the island from the mainland. This would reduce the likelihood that Taiwan’s air force would intercept the helicopter.

According to the indictment, Hsieh spoke with agents on the mainland by teleconference in July, discussing the specifics of his purported defection, which included assisting his family’s immigration to Thailand.

Subsequently, the prosecution detained Hsieh and the retired officer after receiving a tip that, according to the indictment, “prevented the US-made aircraft from falling into the hands of the communist force.”

The potential defector became public on Monday when MPs questioned Taiwan’s defense minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, in a meeting about the security breach in the armed forces and the countermeasures the ministry was supposed to take.

“I feel pained too, to have discovered a case like this and those allegedly involved must be dealt with according to the law,” Chiu told lawmakers.

In a different statement released on Monday, the defense ministry said that Taiwan’s security and military forces had carried out an internal inquiry and had fully collaborated with the legal system throughout its inquiries.

A week after several current and retired officers were arrested by Taiwanese prosecutors on November 27 for allegedly spying for Beijing, Hsieh’s case came to light.

The instance was brought to light concurrently with the ministry’s announcement that the mainland side of the middle line saw the PLA’s Shandong battle group sail southward via the Taiwan Strait on Monday. The ministry did not disclose any more information.

On June 21, the same battle group came through the same region, around the time Hsieh was approached by the mainland agents for the first time.

Since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August of last year, Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be its territory that it may need to annex by force if necessary, has stepped up its military activities there.

Beijing declared that the visit violated both its sovereignty and the US’s one-China policy.

Although, like the majority of nations, the US does not recognize Taiwan as an independent state, it stands against any unilateral changes made to the cross-strait status quo by coercion.

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