Chinese state-owned fishing company is cover for spy activities, report claims

Paracel Islands

A CHINESE STATE-OWNED fisheries enterprise is in reality a front for military-related intelligence activities in the South China Sea, according to a new investigative report. The report was produced by Radio Free Asia (RFA), which is operated by the United States Agency for Global Media —an arm of the United States government. Entitled “Unmasking China’s Maritime Militia”, the report focuses on the Sansha City Fisheries Development Co., which is based on the island of Hainan, China’s southernmost province.

Established in February of 2015, Sansha City Fisheries Development Co. is a municipal state-owned enterprise that carries out industrial-scale fishing operations in the South China Sea. However, having analyzed official Chinese government data, including corporate records and third-party bidding contracts, RFA claims that “the company’s ships are engaged in more than just fishing”. In reality, the fishing company operates as an undercover arm of a shadowy force known as the Sansha City maritime militia, according to RFA.

The Sansha City maritime militia is believed to be headquartered at Woody Island (also known as Yongxing Island), the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. It was allegedly established in 2013, with the goal of protecting China’s maritime claims in a region where Beijing is competing for influence against Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, among other regional actors. Today the maritime militia is said to consist of over 100 vessels and nearly 2,000 militiamen and women.

According to RFA, Sansha City Fisheries Development is known to prioritize hiring veterans of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Moreover, a number of service contracts signed between the state-owned fishing company and third party providers appear to include “state secrets protection” clauses, which typically refer to classified programs for the Chinese military or intelligence services. In recent years, at least two of the company’s ships were used to test classified information systems and command and communications systems, which “transformed [them into] mobile communications and surveillance platform[s] capable of transmitting intelligence back to the authorities on land”, according to RFA.

It should be noted that the Chinese government disputes these allegations. The RFA report quotes part of a statement by the Chinese embassy in the Philippines, which claims that “[t]here is no Chinese Maritime Militia as alleged”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 20 May 2021 | Permalink

CIA lost four paramilitary officers in daring South China Sea operation, say sources

Luzon Island PhilippinesFour highly trained paramilitary officers of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) died during a secret maritime operation off the coast of the Philippines in 2008, according to a new report. Yahoo News, which revealed the alleged incident last week, cited anonymous former intelligence officers in its reporting.

The four men were allegedly paramilitary operations officers (PMOOs) working for the CIA’s Maritime Branch, one of the three branches of the Agency’s Special Operations Group (SOG). The SOG operates under the CIA’s Special Activities Center (formerly Special Activities Division), which plans and supervises paramilitary and psychological operations around the world.

According to Yahoo News, the ill-fated operation took place in the South China Sea, a contested region that forms the epicenter of an ongoing rivalry between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, among other countries. The four PMOOs had been tasked with planting a sophisticated tracking device, disguised as a rock, which was designed to intercept signals produced by Chinese vessels belonging to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

The operation involved the use of a 40-foot vessel belonging to the CIA and registered to a front company in the Philippines. Onboard the ship were four PMOOs, according to Yahoo News: Stephen Stanek, Michael Perich, Jamie McCormick and Daniel Meeks. Stanek, the group leader, had served as an ordnance disposal diver in the US Navy before he was hired by the CIA. His co-diver, Perich, had joined the CIA after having recently graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy. McCormick and Meeks had orders to stay onboard the vessel as supporting personnel.

Yahoo News claims the four men departed from Malaysia; they were carrying fake papers stating they had been hired by a Japanese company to transport the 40-foot ship to Japan. As they approached Luzon, the Philippines’ largest island, they decided to proceed with the mission, despite Tropical Storm Higos, which was dangerously approaching their location. The operation’s planners believed the storm would change course and would not affect the Luzon region. They were wrong, however, and the four men were lost at sea. Their bodies have never been found, according to Yahoo News.

Several months after the fatal incident, the CIA approached the families of the four late officers and invited them to Langley for a private ceremony, which was attended by the CIA’s leadership. That was the first time those family members were told that their loved ones had worked for the CIA. Yahoo News said it reached out to the family members, but they did not wish to comment on the story. The CIA also refused commenting on the report.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 September 2020 | Permalink

US-China naval standoff worst in years, US intel chief says

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Last Sunday’s naval confrontation between a US Navy ship and five Chinese vessels was “the most serious” in seven years, according to US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Admiral Dennis Blair. The last known serious intelligence row between the two nations occurred in 2001, when a Chinese Air Force plane collided with a US electronic surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the damaged US plane to perform an emergency landing on Chinese territory. Last Sunday’s incident also occurred in the South China Sea, approximately 75 miles off the Chinese island of Hainan. The US Pentagon initially claimed that its ship, the USNS Impeccable, was a “research vessel”, but it later admitted that it is used to “to hunt” foreign submarines. Read more of this post

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