Wendell Minnick

Five hundred mainland Chinese per day can visit Taiwan from July 1 as tourist, but defense expert Wendell Minnick tells Asia Sentinel he does not expect an increase in spying activities.  Much of the real spying is done with other means.

“When they catch a tourist spying, it’s normally a tourist who fancies themselves as a spy,” Wendell Minnick, Asia Bureau Chief with Defense News, told Asia Sentinel.

“They are living the fictive dream of cloak and dagger. They are not spies sent by the Chinese government. I call this stuff  ‘amateur hour’ because that’s about how long they last before getting picked up and shipped home.”

Chinese spies are already coming to Taiwanas disguised asv businessmen on multiple-entry visas, and while functioning as case officers, they handle long-term recruitment and servicing of recruited agents, Minnick said.

That doesn’t mean the would-be spies are necessarily harmless.

“There are concerns that as the number of tourists and other visitors increases over the next few months and years China will begin sending spies under tourist cover to Taiwan on acclimation visits to get familiar with the environment,” he said. “Then later, they send them over on regular assignments on business visas or fake third country passports from places like Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore.They are probably already sending a lot over using this method now.”

More in the Asia Sentinel

Wendell Minnick is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need him at your meeting or conference, do get in touch.

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