China offered $15M bribe to Taiwanese pilot to land Chinook on aircraft carrier

CH-47 with a national flag of the Republic of China
Makoto Lin / Office of the Taiwan President / Creative Commons

China allegedly offered a Taiwanese army lieutenant colonel $15 million to land a United States-made CH-47 Chinook helicopter on a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy aircraft carrier.  

According to South Morning China Post, the audacious plan would have seen the lieutenant colonel fly the Chinook aircraft carrier during a military drill near the island. 

Details surrounding the plot were revealed in a Taiwan court on December 11, 2023.  

Taiwan High Court Prosecutors Office said in an indictment that the pilot, identified by his surname Hsieh, was approached by Chinese spies in June 2023.  

The indictment said that Hsieh, was told to fly the “helicopter at low altitude along the coastline to the Chinese Communist carrier which would be staging drills close to the waters 24 nautical miles”. 

While Hsieh initially rejected the plan as too risky, the indictment said that the offer of $15 million and a deposit of $1 million if he accepted helped persuade him to say yes.  

As part of the agreement Hsieh was told his family could get Thai visas if the plan was carried out.  

Hsieh would also receive a salary of $6,355 a month and the $15 million would come from the sale of the helicopter. 

According to prosecutors the plot was foiled after a tip off and Hsieh and a retired Taiwanese army officer, who helped facilitate communication, were arrested.  

The tip off “prevented the US-made aircraft from falling into the hands of the communist force,” the indictment said. 

Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-Cheng was questioned on December 11, 2023, over the security breech.  

“I feel pained too, to have discovered a case like this and those allegedly involved must be dealt with according to the law,” Chiu Kuo-Cheng said. 

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