China Offers Taiwan Officer $15 Million For Chinook


Taiwan has foiled a plot for the Chinese Navy to steal a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the Taiwanese military. According to an indictment made public on Monday, China reportedly offered Taiwanese Army Lt. Col. Hsieh $15 million to fly the heavy lift chopper to a People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier that was to be carrying out drills near the island. What exactly put such a high price on a common utilitarian platform that first flew more than 50 years ago wasn’t released, but the plot involved Hsieh (only his last name was released) flying the helicopter “at low altitude along the coastline to the Chinese Communist carrier” about 24 nautical miles away.

According to the indictment, Hsieh initially rejected the plan as too risky, but the Chinese spies working him kept sweetening the deal. When they offered to give him a $1 million deposit, a monthly salary of $6,355 and Thai visas for his family, he finally agreed. Intelligence officials were tipped to the plot, and Hsieh and another Taiwanese officer who acted as a go-between were arrested. “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. 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Sounds like Bovine ordure to me. Why on Earth would China pay 15 million (plus sweeteners) for a tired bog-standard Chinook?

  2. How many US aircraft-related companies are owned by the Chicoms? Cirrus and Continental are two examples. Why is this tolerated? We should avoid buying anything made there and get America back to manufacturing everything as we did not so long ago.

  3. Does anybody REALLY think the CCP would deliver the cash? Of course if it was in inflated US dollars it would not have been much of a financial bite. “Col. Hsieh landed, stepped out, and was right at the edge of the flight deck when he tripped…”

  4. I’m at a loss why China tried to bribe a Taiwanese CH-47 pilot to ferry the helo into their hands. Possible reasons; demonstrating the power to buy a high ranking officer from Taiwan as a political statement, getting a working heavy lift tandem helicopter and its electronics to create their own fleet of aircraft and thumb their noses at America, never admitting that copying is the greatest form of admiration of a tired yet reliable design.

    • Lots of possible reasons, although beyond a few basics they quickly veer off into (apparent) fantasy. I think as my entry I’ll offer the speculation that some Chinese black ops types had sold higher ups on some infiltration scheme, likely resolving a hitch in a larger plan, in which having the genuine bird was a key element. Serving simply as a propaganda statement would be a close second, if less entertaining.

      The narrative that Chinese advancement rests on stealing technology is a popular theme but, while they definitely don’t shy away from using the technique when opportunity presents it, my impression is we are mostly using it as a face-saving fallback to explain the steady erosion of our own tech leadership.

  5. CH-47s were left behind with the South Vietnam Army after their fall and most likely Russia and Red China ended up with some to evaluate. That was almost 50 years ago.

  6. Editor: next time, could you please be sure to identify the role or relevance of people quoted in the story? I was wondering about “Chiu Kuo-Cheng”. That is the name of the current Taiwan Minister of Defence. Is it them who is quoted?

  7. Much speculation regarding the “why”. After all, what possible use could the communist Chinese have for a Taiwanese military helicopter, in Taiwanese military colors, piloted by a Taiwanese Lt. Col. as it flies toward a PRC aircraft carrier. Certainly they wouldn’t pursue a false-flag operation…

    • Not many would have imagined in the 1970s that the PRC would become the second strongest military and economic world power and growing. The trajectory over the past few decades has been undeniable. Considering all things. Not good!

  8. During my time in Vietnam with the First Infantry I got to ride in the CH-47As. So, I have fond memories. Thus, my interest on the Chinese trying to “acquire” one, and search for the model involved.

    Taipei Times reports that a Taiwanese Chinook pilot was offered $15 million to deflect with his helicopter to China. The plan was to land the CH-47SD transport helicopter on a Chinese aircraft carrier in the Taiwan Strait. The Boeing Super D, aimed primarily at the international market incorporating a fully integrated glass cockpit with automated flight controls and full authority digital engine control (FADEC). It is not a B21, it’s a relatively aged design, so I agree with those that speculate on the Chinese wanting it for a black op.