TAIPEI – The recent publication of a book by a Taiwanese scientist who had informed the United States about Taiwan’s nuclear program in the 1980s has sparked a strong controversy in the island where many experts brand him a traitor.
Chang Hsien-yi’s disclosure to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency weakened Taiwan’s military power and is an act of betrayal, Chang Jung-feng, former security advisor to the ex-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, said on Wednesday in a press conference.
Selling oneself to another country’s intelligence service is same as betraying one’s own nation, said Chang, an opinion echoed by the ruling party legislator Lo Chih-cheng.
The author of the book “Nuclear! Spy? CIA: Record of an Interview with Chang Hsien-yi” explained on Monday that he went to the U.S. and alerted the CIA in 1988 about the nuclear project launched by the-then President Chiang Ching-kuo, because he was worried that these nuclear weapons may be used by “ambitious politicians,” irrespective of the political party.
However, Lo called Chang’s reasons insufficient, which could not justify his betrayal of the nation and debilitating the military.
Chang, 73, was the deputy director of Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, in charge of arms and nuclear development when he left for U.S. in 1988.
With his testimony, Washington, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, managed to have all nuclear development facilities in Taiwan dismantled and shut down the laboratory few days after Chang’s arrival in the U.S.
Chang, who was a military colonel, was declared a fugitive by Taiwan’s military following his defection, but his arrest warrant expired in July 2000.