China Denies Ties to Illegal-Arms Suspect

Times Staff Writer

A Chinese government official denied Friday that Chinese diplomats at the United Nations had links to a 65-year-old Taiwanese janitor arrested this week on charges of attempting to buy advanced TOW 2 missiles and plans for F-14 Navy fighter aircraft for illegal export to China.

“This matter has nothing to do with the mission,” said Shibing Yuan, counselor at the Chinese Mission to the United Nations. “What this man said was total fiction . . . . Nobody from the mission was involved.”

The man, Shang-yao Chi, was charged with conspiracy to illegally export arms. His negotiations were with a U.S. Customs Service undercover agent, and no arms or blueprints were stolen or exchanged, officials said. Chi was being held without bail Friday in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correction Center.


Linked to Delegation

Assistant U.S. Atty. Mark S. Olinsky said at Chi’s detention hearing Wednesday in Newark, N.J., that Chi had links to “high-ranking members of the United Nations (Chinese) delegation and the People’s Republic of China.”

But Customs officials later played down that claim. David Hoover, a Customs Service spokesman in Washington, said the allegation was “not true.”

“He was supposedly trying to interest someone from the U.N. delegation,” Hoover said. “It was not high level.”

Janet Rapaport, a Customs spokeswoman in New York, said that Chi “said he was acting as a representative for people involved with the Chinese Mission to the U.N. . . . That’s what he was saying.”

Olinsky did not return phone calls Friday. Robert Stahl, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Newark, said he could not comment on the case. “It’s an active investigation,” he said.

Given Resident Alien Status

Stahl said Chi is a Taiwanese citizen but has been a resident alien of Flushing, in the Queens borough of New York City, for about three years.


Alan Zegas, Chi’s attorney, said Chi worked as a janitor for a construction company before his arrest. He said Chi, who speaks no English, has no police record.

“He is a Chinese nationalist,” Zegas said. “He is bitterly opposed to the Communists. His father was killed by Communists. His brother was arrested by Communists. He lived in Taiwan for 30 years. There’s no reason to believe he would do this.”

According to a five-page Customs Service complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, Chi met another Flushing resident, Charles Chang, on Aug. 27 and Sept. 7 to discuss purchasing the TOW missiles. The complaint said Chang, who became an undercover agent for the Customs Service after his arrest in early August, secretly recorded the conversations.