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Taiwan Colonel Offered $15M by China to Steal US-Made Chinook: Report

A Taiwanese military official detained on suspicion of spying for China was allegedly offered a hefty cash incentive to defect with a US-made helicopter, according to reports by local news outlets.

A lieutenant colonel named Hsieh from the army’s Aviation and Special Forces Command was allegedly asked by Chinese intelligence officials to steal a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in exchange for 480 million New Taiwan dollars ($15 million).

He was instructed to fly 24 nautical miles (27 miles/44 kilometers) from the coast, avoid the Taiwan Strait, and land on a Chinese aircraft carrier that would be staging drills in the area.

He was also told that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy would conduct an exercise in the north to distract the Taiwanese military.

According to the reports, the army colonel initially turned down the defection scheme, saying it was too risky. However, prosecutors said Hsieh changed his mind.

Potential Consequences

Institute for National Defense and Security Research fellow Su Tzu-Yun claimed that the plan would have greatly damaged the Taiwanese military’s combat power if it had succeeded.

It would also have affected troop morale and lowered the trust between Taiwan and the US – its “most important” ally.

Even Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng admitted that the plot would have had a “considerable impact” on the armed forces.

To minimize damage from future Chinese espionage attempts, a ministry spokesperson said the military has strengthened its response, including conducting a timely investigation.

It has also reportedly enhanced counter-intelligence education across all branches to avoid further defections.

Similar to Ukraine

If successful, the defection would have been similar to a plot in Ukraine when a 28-year-old Russian pilot switched sides while taking one of Moscow’s Mi-8 helicopters loaded with spare parts for Russian fighter jets.

He was reportedly convinced by Ukrainian special forces to fly and land the chopper in the eastern region of Kharkiv, where Ukrainian soldiers were waiting.

In exchange, the Russian soldier received half a million dollars and offered to reside in Ukraine to avoid being penalized in Russia.

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