Famed Taiwan film director indicted in naval base ploy

TAIPEI - Acclaimed Taiwanese director Doze Niu was indicted on Friday for using false papers to take a Chinese cinematographer onto a naval base in Taiwan to scout film locations, prosecutors said.

Niu and award-winning cinematographer Cao Yu were both charged with violating a law that bans Chinese nationals from entering Taiwanese military facilities, prosecutors said. The offence is punishable by a maximum five-year jail term.

Niu had repeatedly applied to the military to take Cao with him to scout locations for his upcoming movie "Military Paradise" at a naval base in the southern city of Kaohsiung but was rejected.

However, Cao got into the base in June last year with the rest of Niu's crew by using a Taiwanese citizen's identity card and also boarded a naval ship, according to prosecutors.

The navy decided to withdraw all assistance to Niu after the incident and reported him to prosecutors.

Niu, known for the Taiwanese blockbusters "Monga" and "Love," apologised on his Facebook page after the case surfaced and vowed to reflect on what happened. "Filmmakers have often gone overboard and resorted to all possible means to make a great work and it's time to reflect," he wrote at the time.

Cao has twice won the cinematography gong at Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Awards, regarded as the Chinese-language Oscars.

According to the film website, "Military Paradise" is a comedy about a group of people on a frontline island preparing for a war that will probably never happen during the 1960s standoff between Taiwan and China.

Ties between Taiwan and China have improved markedly since 2008 when the island's Beijing-friendly government took power.

However, security concerns linger despite eased political tensions as the former bitter rivals have been spying on each other since they split in 1949 after a civil war.

In 2011, Taiwan's defence ministry told travel agencies not to bring Chinese tourists to military camps, citing concerns that some might be spies, amid a security scare after one mainland group entered a base.