Taiwanese metro faces bomb threats over Swiss government visit
On February 3, a major Taiwanese public transport firm received bomb threats as members of the Swiss government prepared to visit Taiwan over the weekend. The threats were accompanied by demands for the visit to be called off, with the person or persons behind the threat claiming that gas cylinder bombs would be used to indiscriminately attack passengers if the visit went ahead. Thankfully, the Swiss delegation arrived in the country without a hitch.
Taiwanese police say they have identified a suspect
The bomb threats were made last week over several days, with the threats targeting Taiwanese government offices and public transport services. On February 3, Taoyuan Metro Corporation, which operates the Taoyuan Airport MRT(metro) line from the country’s main airport, received an email threatening to indiscriminately attack passengers on its service if the Swiss visit went ahead.
In the days since the threats were sent, the Taiwanese police have been able to identify a suspect - a Chinese man with the surname Zhang. According to police, Zhang studied in Taiwan for his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees between 2016 and 2021 before leaving the country in July 2021.
Just two months after leaving Taiwan in 2021, Zhang is alleged to have made a series of bomb threats targeting government offices and transport firms - the country put out a warrant for his arrest in June 2022. In an attempt to try to trick the police, Zhang’s most recent threats were made using VPNs in order to conceal his location - the suspect pretended to be located in the Netherlands, for example. Police are unsure whether Zhang is in China or elsewhere at this time.
Swiss delegation makes historic visit to Taiwan
The most recent threats demanded the cancellation of a historic visit to Taiwan by a Swiss delegation led by the Swiss-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group co-presidents Fabian Molina of the Social Democratic Party and Nicolas Walder of the Green Party. They will be accompanied by Swiss lawmakers Yves Nidegger, Mustafa Atici and Leonore Porchet.
The visit follows a similar trip made by US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in August 2022 and is expected to last until February 10. Both trips have proven diplomatically problematic for China, which believes Taiwan to be a rogue Chinese province as opposed to an independently governed country after the pair split during a civil war in 1949.
Switzerland maintains no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but still sees the island as a key trade partner and therefore has considerable informal ties with the nation. The Chinese Embassy in Switzerland has warned the delegation ahead of their trip to avoid “official contact” with Taiwan.