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May 29, 2017

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NSB chief pledges more security after professor's defection

The National Security Bureau (國安局, NSB) will beef up its security checks of scholars who participate in NSB-initiated research projects to prevent the recurrence of a recent incident where one of the nation's top researchers was found to have defected to China.

Speaking during an interpellation session in the Legislative Yuan yesterday, NSB Director-General Lee Shying-jow (李翔宙) stressed that Chen Kun-shan (陳錕山), one of the nation's top researchers and the former head of the Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research (CSRSR) at the National Central University (NCU) had limited access to confidential intelligence.

His defection therefore poses little threat to Taiwan's security as no confidential information was found to have been leaked across the Taiwan Strait so far, Lee noted.

According to local media reports, Chen has been absent without leave since September 2013.

  The NCU later learned through Chinese media reports that Chen had been hired to work at China's State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science under Beijing's high-profile Thousands Talents Program, which seeks to attract overseas scientists.

  The reports were later verified by Beijing through the cabinet's Mainland Affairs Council.

  As head of the Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research, Chen reportedly had access to satellite images covering Taiwan and China's military deployments, according to local media reports.

  Asked to comment on Chen's defection and its influence on Taiwan, Lee yesterday confirmed that his bureau did previously invite the Taiwanese professor to participate in a NSB research project. But Lee stressed that Chen had no access to confidential NSB files.

NSB to Amend Loopholes

  The NSB chief noted that there is currently a ban on travel to China for public servants or those who are exposed to confidential military intelligence during their service in Taiwan.

  But there are currently no similar restrictions on professors who take part in research projects with the military or with the NSB.

  To amend the loopholes, the NSB is drafting proposals to have professors who join its research projects from now on sign a contract beforehand restricting them from traveling overseas until they have gained permission from the bureau, Lee said.

  These scholars are also required to report to the NSB after their return to Taiwan for security reasons, he added.

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