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September 20, 2017

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MND denies China spied on minister with wiretap

TAIPEI--The Ministry of National Defense has flatly denied a Wednesday media report that Defense Minister Yen Ming's cellphone was tapped by China during his visit to Africa earlier this year.

"The report is absolutely untrue," the ministry said in a statement later in the day. The ministry said it has measures and encryption equipment in place to avoid wiretapping.

The statement came in response to a report in the Chinese language Want Weekly that Yen's phone was wiretapped by Chinese agents during his April visit to Swaziland, one of Taiwan's 22 diplomatic allies.

Yen was a special envoy representing President Ma Ying-jeou to attend the birthday celebration of Swazi King Mswati III.

Want Weekly said that China learned about Yen's trip to Africa by wiretapping phones. It said Beijing pressured South Africa to deny permission for Yen's delegation to transfer through that country, which does not have official ties with Taiwan, on his way to Burkina Faso, which does.

Yen and his delegation had been scheduled to take a regular flight via South Africa.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained in June that Yen took a chartered flight instead as a matter of convenience.

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