Taiwan probes alleged leak of classified reports, diplomatic cables


Taiwan is investigating a potential leak of official documents including diplomatic cables and classified reports on the island’s sensitive bid to join a global trade pact, according to two officials familiar with the probe.

One official said initial findings show parts of the documents, posted on online message board 8kun and reviewed by Reuters, are real while bits were forged, without giving details.

A second official said parts of the documents appeared to be “authentic” and they could not immediately determine the origin of the documents shared on the internet.

The officials asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The incident comes at a delicate time for the island which is due to hold elections early next year and is seeking to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact despite protestations from China, which claims Taiwan as its own and is also seeking to join.

The documents posted online include what purports to be a classified “security assessment” in October by Taiwan’s top intelligence agency, the National Security Bureau, on the island’s CPTPP bid.

They also include alleged diplomatic cables from Taiwan’s de facto embassies in Japan and Vietnam about the CPTPP applications by China and Taiwan, and another classified report this year by Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington on its ongoing trade negotiations with the US.

Reuters has seen the documents but could not independently verify their authenticity.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry and National Security Bureau did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Taiwan and China both applied in 2021 to join the CPTPP, a landmark trade pact between 11 countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Britain is also set to join soon.

Beijing has said it strongly opposes Taiwan’s membership because Taiwan is part of China and therefore ineligible to join international bodies on its own. Taiwan is however a member of the World Trade Organization, designated as a separate customs territory called Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

Taiwan strongly rejects Chinese sovereignty claims and says only Taiwanese people can decide their future.

The island of 23 million people is growing increasingly concerned about hacks and cyber attacks as it gears up for presidential elections due in January 2024.

President Tsai Ing-wen, whose ruling party is seeking to head off a challenge from opposition parties pledging friendlier ties with Beijing, has repeatedly warned of China’s attempts to influence public opinion ahead of the vote.

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