- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 23, 2006


A former top U.S. diplomat and a Taiwanese spy interspersed breezy, snarky commentary about former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and soul-baring confessionals during discussions on international relations, court documents show.

The documents provide further detail about the relationship between Donald Keyser, 63, of Fairfax, who previously had been the second-ranking official in the State Department’s East Asia bureau, and Isabelle Cheng, 35, an official with Taiwan’s intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Bureau.

Keyser pleaded guilty last year to concealing his relationship with Miss Cheng. He may face additional espionage-related charges, as federal prosecutors claim he violated his plea bargain by withholding information.

The new documents include Keyser’s views on Mr. Jiang, which he shared with Miss Cheng in a 2002 e-mail.

“President Jiang came across as a man seeking his place in China’s history,” Keyser wrote after having an hourlong discussion with Mr. Jiang on an airplane during a 2002 U.S. visit.

The two traded views on whether Mr. Jiang looks more like a raccoon or a badger.

“Japanese keep ceramic badgers in their homes, and sometimes rub the stomachs for good luck. Jiang is a bit like that, with his nearsighted badger face and his rather large, eminently pattable stomach,” Keyser wrote.

But Keyser also sought to reassure Miss Cheng and the Taiwanese that the goodwill between the United States and China during Mr. Jiang’s visit “holds no message or implications for Taiwan. … Jiang offered only the very brief form of the standard lecture on Taiwan. And so President Bush replied with our short, standard reply.”

The documents also show how valuable the Taiwanese considered their contacts with Keyser. In December 2003, Miss Cheng sent a cable marked “secret” to her superiors outlining a discussion between Keyser and her boss, Michael Huang.

“Huang asked Keyser for Keyser’s assessment on [China’s] threat of use of force against Taiwan,” according to the cable. “Keyser believes that [China] is using a more serious tone in its diplomatic propaganda.”

Keyser frequently expressed infatuation with Miss Cheng in the e-mails. In September 2003, he thanked her for spending time with him on a trip to Taiwan and apologized for “making you a co-conspirator in a shared conspiracy of silence.”

Federal agents have been particularly concerned about Keyser’s trip to Taiwan because he did not report it to his superiors, and because he failed a polygraph test when asked if he met with any government official besides Miss Cheng on that trip.

The new documents are exhibits in support of a court motion filed earlier this month in which the government outlines its evidence that Keyser violated his plea bargain by withholding information.

Keyser’s attorney, Robert Litt, has said that the government is mischaracterizing much of the evidence against his client.

“Mr. Keyser denies that he was ever acting on behalf of Taiwan’s intelligence agency, (and) that he ever improperly disclosed any classified information,” Mr. Litt said.

A spokesman for Taiwan’s representative office in the United States declined to comment, citing the ongoing court case.

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