Only now are Taiwan's spies on China telling their stories

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This is the story of one man's broken dream to serve his country and love his woman.

Kan Zhonggan was a spy. His master was the government of Taiwan, an island that broke with mainland China in 1949 after a protracted civil war. Ever since, mutual espionage has been a way of life, but it was especially robust in the early years of the split.

Little was known about the lives of the secret agents who risked everything for the cause until a group of elderly former spies decided to speak out recently in hopes of seeking redress and compensation from Taipei. They say that instead of being treated as war heroes, they were abandoned by the island that recruited them....

During the height of the Cold War, an estimated 30,000 Taiwanese spies were dispatched to the mainland, said Jiang Jianguo, 73, a former spy now living in Hong Kong who spent 13 years in prison. Of those, an estimated 20,000 were executed by the communists, he said. The rest probably died of old age or are living in exile, mostly in mainland China and Hong Kong, said Jiang, whose Cross Strait Relations Victims Assn. has contacted about 70 former spies.

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