CIA ‘seriously damaged’ China’s overseas spy network, sources say

Ministry of State Security branch office in Hubei Province, ChinaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
A high-level Chinese security official, who was arrested earlier this year in China for spying for the United States, compromised several Chinese agents operating on American soil, according to sources. Reuters news agency, which broke the initial story of the Chinese official’s arrest earlier this month, published last week a lengthy update on the spy affair. The article quoted “two sources with direct knowledge on the matter”, who claimed the issue was considered serious enough in Beijing to prompt the personal intervention of Chinese President Hu Jintao. Jintao, who is also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, personally ordered an investigation into the case, said Reuters. The investigation focused on China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), China’s primary intelligence agency, where the accused spy was reportedly working at the time of his arrest. Although Chinese media have remained silent on the issue, the arrested official is said to have worked as a senior aide to MSS Vice Minister Lu Zhongwei. The Reuters article alleges that the investigation, which is said to be continuing, has concluded that the aide had been a paid informant of the US Central Intelligence Agency, and that the information he provided to the CIA included “political, economic and strategic intelligence”. But the sources also told Reuters that some of the government secrets that the MSS aide gave the CIA related to China’s network of spies operating on American soil. The latest Reuters article strengthens the widespread view that the latest espionage scandal caused serious damage to China’s espionage network in the US. Some observers now argue that this represents China’s most damaging espionage scandal since 1985, when Yu Qiangsheng, a senior Chinese intelligence official, defected to the United States. His high-profile defection led to the eventual arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Larry Wu-Tai Chin. Chin, a Chinese language translator working for the CIA’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service, killed himself in prison in 1986, shortly before he was sentenced for selling classified US government documents to China from 1952 to 1985. American government officials have declined commenting on the case, as has China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The MSS, which some say is the world’s largest intelligence agency, has no website or official spokesperson.

One Response to CIA ‘seriously damaged’ China’s overseas spy network, sources say

  1. Pete says:

    Things look grim for the senior aide in question (to MSS Vice Minister Lu Zhongwei). This is because the degree of alleged treason might not incline the Chinese Government to trade the aide in a spy swap. The Chinese regularly execute officials for less (such as being involved in corruption).

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