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Global Times

State TV unveils espionage cases, alerting people to watch out for foreign spies

Global Times

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/6 19:13:40

Three cases of foreign spies inciting defection among Chinese officials and stealing confidential military files have been exposed by China's State media, alerting people to increase awareness of national security and watch out for foreign intelligence agencies' activities in China, analysts said.

The three cases unveiled by China Central Television (CCTV) on November 1 included an internet administrator from a company affiliated with a military research center, a translator from a foreign office of a certain ministry and an official from county publicity department in a coastal province.

The military, national defense institutions and private companies doing business with the military are the main targets of overseas intelligence agencies. Foreign spies also use employees from the offices of governmental institutions, students studying abroad, Chinese companies, and tourists to collect information.

CCTV spoke of the three cases in detail and broadcasted video footage of the three spies without adding mosaic.

Various methods used by foreign intelligence agencies to get confidential information in China have also been unveiled by CCTV, including tempting employees or officials stationed abroad by money, threatening them or persuading them to defect. Foreign intelligence agencies sometimes use job recruitment, academic research, and transnational marriage as covers and threaten people to steal national secrets or sell them.

Chen Wei, a network administrator of a company affiliated to a military research institute, was sentenced to life imprisonment in March after stealing and offering more than 5,500 files, including more than 1,800 confidential ones, to an foreign spy agency.

The military research institute is responsible for research and developing important equipment. Chen, whose main job is to maintain the network of the affiliated company, had access to confidential files. Chen "accidentally" met a foreigner in 2011. The man called himself Peter and said he is an expert who wanted to buy some technical files.

Chen was allured by the money and began to download files from the company. But as Peter began asking more files with higher confidentiality, Chen realized that he was not an expert. He wanted to stop "the business" with Peter who then threatened him.

Living in fear, Chen quit his job at the company in 2014 and was arrested by the Beijing Municipal National Security Bureau.

The second case concerns Zhang Xiangbin, who worked as a translator for a ministry. When he was stationed in a foreign country in 1996, Zhang got acquainted with a group of foreigners who claimed to work for a certain country's foreign ministry.

Zhang offered dozens of classified documents to these foreigners, who were later found out to be working in a spy agency. Zhang acted without discipline, procuring prostitutes and having an affair with an official in the foreign country. Before resigning in 2008, Zhang copied a large number of files. Police found 5,200 documents in Zhang's computer with more than 1,000 classified files and 59 files identified as "top secret."

Zhang was sentenced to death with two year reprieve for espionage and illegally obtaining national secrets by illegal means by the Intermediate People's Court of Baise in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region this year.

Increase national security awareness

An expert on intelligence security who asked for anonymity told the Global Times that no matter their positions, Chinese citizens and people who work in institutions or departments with access to confidential information should increase their awareness of national security and never leak classified information to others.

The expert said that "telling the espionage cases in detail could alert people to pay more attention to national security education" since more foreigners are coming to China, and more Chinese are going abroad and foreign intelligence agencies are using all methods to collect information.

"Leaking confidential information especially those related to the military and technology would bring huge loss. Those who have been threatened by foreign intelligence agencies should report the case to authorities before more damages are done," the expert said.

China's first anti-espionage law took effect on November 1, 2014.

The national security bureaus of all levels have strengthened efforts on fighting against foreign intelligence agencies and successfully cracked a bunch of espionage cases, according to CCTV.

Various activities have been organized across China to increase residents' awareness of national security, including releasing short films on the topic, organizing activities under the anti-espionage law, and setting up online and phone reporting platforms, according to CCTV.

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