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China points to CIA again in second case of alleged spy recruitment

  • Both cases announced this month involve allegations of Chinese students overseas recruited by American agency before returning to work for China

  • US embassy worker ‘established a close relationship with Hao through dinners, gifts, etc, and asked Hao to help write papers, promising to pay a fee’

By Yuanyue Dang in Beijing

August 21, 2023

On Monday, the Ministry of State Security said an accused official named Hao who worked at an unnamed ministry met CIA personnel in China to provide information and receive payment for espionage. Photo: Reuters

China’s top anti-espionage agency, the Ministry of State Security, announced on Monday it arrested an official it says is a spy for the CIA.

It said a 39-year-old official surnamed Hao had been recruited by the US Central Intelligence Agency to become an American spy while studying in Japan. But it did not identify Hao’s sex or what ministry Hao worked for.

It is rare for China to publicly name other organisations or nations, but this is the second case of alleged espionage this month in which the ministry has directly pointed to the CIA.

On August 10, the ministry said it had arrested a 52-year-old employee of a state-run arms company who had begun working for the CIA while studying in Italy.

Both cases were published on the ministry’s new WeChat account as China and the US strengthen their respective counterintelligence efforts.

In the most recent statement, the ministry said that while applying for a US visa as a student in Japan, Hao met Taide – the Chinese translation of Ted – an official at the US embassy in Japan. “Ted gradually established a close relationship with Hao through dinners, gifts, etc, and asked Hao to help write papers, promising to pay a fee,” the announcement said. At the end of his tenure, Ted introduced his colleague Li Jun to Hao. Hao and Li Jun continued to work together, the ministry added.

“Before the end of Hao’s study abroad, Li Jun confessed that he was a member of the Tokyo station of the CIA and recruited Hao, asking Hao to work in the core units of our country,” the ministry said.

“Hao agreed, signed a spy agreement with the US, and accepted examinations and training.”

According to the statement, Hao began working in an unnamed ministry after returning home and met CIA personnel in China on several occasions to provide information and receive espionage fees.

The ministry said it had discovered Hao’s spy activities and was investigating.

On August 1, the ministry urged the public to join the “grim and complex” anti-espionage fight.

And in the United States, the House of Representatives said on August 2 it would investigate China’s alleged involvement in intrusions into US Commerce and State department email systems.

On August 3, the US Department of Justice said two navy soldiers had been arrested for “transmitting sensitive military information to the People’s Republic of China”.

CIA director William Burns told the Aspen Security Forum last month that the agency’s intelligence network in China had “made progress” in rebuilding its spy networks in China after suffering significant losses a decade ago.

Beijing responded by saying it would take “all necessary” countermeasures to safeguard national security.


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