Taiwanese prosecutors say a military helicopter pilot was offered $15 million by Chinese spies to defect and land his aircraft on a Chinese navy ship near Taiwan. However, the audacious plot was uncovered and foiled before it could occur.
According to the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office, Chinese intelligence recruited Lt. Col. Hsieh earlier this year through a retired Taiwanese officer. They directed him to fly a U.S.-made CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter along the coast at low altitude and land on a People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel.
The incident was meant to coincide with Chinese naval drills close to Taiwan’s territorial waters. In exchange, Hsieh would receive $200,000 monthly payments. Chinese agents also offered to evacuate Hsieh’s family to Thailand and support their immigration in case of cross-strait conflict.
Initially, Hsieh considered the high-risk proposition too dangerous. But Chinese operatives raised the defection reward to a staggering $15 million, with $1-2 million provided upfront. Tempted by the money, Hsieh suggested staging the event near Kaohsiung to avoid crossing the Taiwan Strait median line and being intercepted.
Prosecutors say Hsieh met with Chinese agents overseas to finalise details. However, Taiwanese authorities uncovered the plot through intelligence and arrested Hsieh and accomplices before his defection.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry stated it has fully cooperated with judicial probes and conducted internal investigations into the incident. The alleged defection attempt follows last week’s indictment of active and retired Taiwanese officers for spying for China.
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