Chinese media reported on June 18 that Vice Minister of State Security Dong Jingwei hosted a counter-espionage seminar that morning, in a bid to dispel rumors that Dong had defected to the United States. Some U.S. experts believe that the timing and manner in which the Chinese Communist Party dispelled the rumors was “interesting” on the eve of the party’s centennial celebration, in order to maintain all stability, but still fell short. What is the reason why the defection of Chinese officials is always in the spotlight?
“The Ministry of State Security pointed out that it is necessary to catch both spies and ‘traitors’ and ‘behind-the-scenes gold masters’.” The public WeChat number of the Central Committee of Political and Legal Affairs, “Chang’an Jian”, took the initiative to announce the above news, which seems to be bland and unexceptional, but the mention of a seminar hosted by Dong Jingwei is particularly noteworthy.
This is tantamount to dispelling the rumors that Dong Jingwei and his daughter Dong Yang had defected from the country.
However, Matthew James Brazil, a former U.S. diplomat and co-author of the book “Chinese Communist Espionage: A Primer on Intelligence,” said in an interview with RTHK that it was “interesting” that Chinese officials chose to try to dispel the rumors circulating overseas in this way and at this point in time, but there is still confusion. But there is still confusion.
“If I were the Chinese (responsible for conveying the news), I would have included a picture of Dong Jingwei, and I would have included a statement from Dong Jingwei’s daughter, Dong Yang, who is rumored to have defected from the U.S., father and daughter. In my opinion, they need better PR people.” Bao Mingde, who is now a contributing editor at SpyTalk, a U.S. multimedia site that focuses on intelligence community news, told reporters.
In China, the truth is not always available in pictures, let alone in pictures.
In addition, China’s information is not transparent, and the outside world knows very little about the officials in charge of national security and intelligence affairs.
Dong Jingwei: Xi Jinping’s inner circle?
According to the Paris-based Intelligence Online website, Dong Jingwei has “close ties” to Xi Jinping, having served as head of the Hebei Provincial State Security Department, where he trained many of the people responsible for Xi’s security.
On the eve of the Communist Party’s centennial, not only social stability but also political stability is a top priority within the Party. Under Xi Jinping’s heavy-handed control, everyone in the Communist Party is at risk and does not feel safe.
“The biggest problem in China right now is that there is actually some kind of split in the Chinese elite …… Xi Jinping and the people around him are also insecure, he doesn’t know how many people are wondering about him behind his back, and some people will go and inform on others in order not to make Xi Jinping suspicious of them, and rumors are spread around about this, true or false.”
The U.S. and China spy on spy Chinese Communist Party to catch the mole is not soft
A closer look at the content of the meeting hosted by Dong Jingwei stressed that there is mention of the current foreign spy intelligence agencies and a variety of hostile forces to infiltrate and steal secrets activities significantly intensified; state security organs to better organize and mobilize the whole society to fight the “people’s war” against espionage.
It is not unusual for countries to collect intelligence on important foreign adversaries, but the spy-on-spy relationship between the U.S. and China has become more and more intense in the past few years, and the Chinese Communist Party has never been soft on catching spies.
The New York Times reported that from 2010 to 2012, Chinese officials dismantled many U.S. intelligence networks in China, and that China even shot U.S. informants in their compounds to make an example of them, nearly wiping out the CIA’s network in China.
In May 2019, Kevin Patrick Mallory, a former CIA officer, was charged with spying for China and sentenced to 20 years in prison; in November of the same year, Jerry Chun Shing Lee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide classified information to In November of the same year, Jerry Chun Shing Lee was sentenced to 19 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to provide classified information to China.
The spying between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait was most notable during the Taiwan Strait crisis of the 1990s. Then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui’s remark that “the Chinese Communist Party was firing a ‘dumb bomb'” caught the attention of the CCP’s counterintelligence department.
After Li Zhihao, a Communist Party spy in Taiwan’s military intelligence agency, passed the names of Liu Liankun and others back to mainland China, former PLA Major General Liu Liankun was sentenced to death in 1999, Liu’s son was sentenced to 15 years in prison, nearly 200 PLA officers were investigated, and more than 30 were sentenced to prison.
With China’s economic rise, Spiegel Publishing Group founder He Pin believes that it would be risky and highly unlikely for either the United States or Taiwan to set up a spy network against China, and that “it is unlikely that there will be another Liu Liankun. However, the Chinese Communist Party is still using the same old tricks, telling the foreign forces as the evil party, deterring and intimidating the internal, creating enemies, with the aim of internal stability.
“He must create enemies in order to keep the people from acting rashly. But China’s problems are not fundamentally driven by the West or Taiwan (spy work), the fundamental problem is still the contradictions in Chinese society, but he can only blame it on outside the country, Taiwan or Hong Kong, which facilitates his fight against the people in general at home.” He Pin told the station.
But the defection of officials, which always makes the news, is arguably another Chinese characteristic. He said the reason is that “Chinese politics is a black box,” which is not open and transparent, so people will be curious, giving room for fake news to circulate.
In China, rumors are always referred to as “distant prophecies”, and this and the truth, which is always controlled, form an unresolved cycle.