New Party spokesman Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠). CNA file photo
Taipei, March 10 (CNA) A Chinese man detained for alleged espionage earlier Friday likes the late President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) and collects his artifacts, according to one of the man's friends who is a spokesman for the pro-unification New Party.
The Taipei District Court detained the man, identified as Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭) for trying to gather classified information from schools and government offices, in violation of Taiwan's National Security Act.
Investigators said that Zhou allegedly accessed an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whom he met while studying in Taiwan, and tried to persuade him to hand over classified information with the promise of free travel.
Zhou has denied the offenses, but prosecutors requested that he be detained, which was granted by the court because of concern that Zhou could flee and collude with others.
New Party spokesman Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠) said his impression of Zhou is that he likes the Republic of China and admires Chiang.
Zhou, who enrolled in an MBA program at National Chengchi University 2012-2016, once noted that the university was founded by Chiang and felt a special attachment to be able to study at the university, Wang said.
Wang said that he became acquainted with Zhou at a seminar at National Taiwan University. Later, as both are opposed to the Sunflower Movement, they sometimes exchanged views over lunch.
The Sunflower Movement is associated with a protest movement in 2014 against the rapid passing of a cross-Taiwan Strait service trade agreement by the then-ruling Kuomintang at the legislature without a clause-by-clause review.
He said he was taken by surprise that Zhou was involved in espionage, but as the judicial authorities are now investigating the case, he would not comment further.
National Chengchi University confirmed that Zhou entered information regarding his taking part in the Communist Youth League of China during his admission.
But the university does not treat students differently because of their religious faith or political stance, and hopes that the public will not see Chinese students in a poorer light because of an isolated case, said Wang Wen-chieh (王文杰), chief secretary of the university.
According to Zhou's Facebook page, he is from Liaoning Province and studied at Taiwan's Tamkang University and at National Chengchi University.
Zhou entered Tamkang University's Department of Banking and Finance as an exchange student in 2009. The students with Zhou at that time expressed disbelief that he could be a spy, saying that their impression was he was a "bookworm" and "a good-student type" who would stand up to salute a teacher at each class.
Tsai Ching-hwa (蔡清華), deputy Education Minister, said the stance of the ministry is consistent, which is that Chinese students have to abide by Taiwan's law
"This is basic respect" and the same applies to Taiwanese students studying in China, Tsai said.
On whether Chinese students should divulge their political background during admission, he said that the matter will need to be discussed with related agencies.
Wang Qin (王欽), a student at National Taiwan University, said that there is nothing special about Zhou being a member of the Communist Youth League of China, because 99 percent of Chinese students are members, usually joining during junior or senior high school.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council said that allegations by Taiwanese agencies that the office is involved in the case are a deliberate fabrication.
TAO spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) questioned Taiwan's motives, saying that the case takes place at a time when Taiwan independence forces are playing up the rhetoric that Chinese infiltration into Taiwan is serious.
(By Liu Kuan-ting, Chen Chih-chung, Lawrence Chiu and Lilian Wu)