China’s state broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), has reported detailed accounts of Chinese nationals arrested after being caught spying for foreign intelligence agencies.
The CCTV report did not specify how many civilians were arrested, or the foreign agencies they were allegedly working for. It did however include four Chinese nationals from Shandong, Hainan, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces that have been arrested this year for leaking military intelligence.
According to a counter-espionage officer from China’s Ministry of State Security, there is an increasing number of young Chinese men turning on their country to work for foreign spy agencies. Invariably, these “jobs” can be found on job-hunting websites by companies claiming to be consulting firms, research companies, and in one case, even a military magazine.
In April of this year, a Chinese man surnamed Cao was arrested in Qinghai, Shandong Province after he was caught spying at a navy base in the city and sending sensitive military information including photos of the base to a foreign “military magazine editor” the report said, citing an officer from Qingdao’s State Security Bureau. The editor also provided him with high-spec binoculars, cameras and other equipment in order to take high-resolution images of the base. Another three suspects from Anhui, Hainan and Zhejiang provinces were also arrested on the same charge, the report said.
The report states that these four are by no means isolated cases. In August, a Chinese graduate student, surnamed Chang, was arrested in Harbin for sending more than 100 classified intelligence documents over the course of two years to foreigners, China’s state agency Xinhua reported. The student was paid $32,000 by several foreign individuals. Another Guangdong resident was sentenced to 10 years for selling sensitive military information to a suspected spy named Feige, or flying brother in Chinese.
High-ranking officials have also been caught in the act. In September, the Chinese Ambassador to Iceland, Ma Jisheng, was arrested on suspicion of spying for Japan. In 2007, the Chinese Ambassador to South Korea was arrested for spying for Seoul.
In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed the new Counter Espionage Law, reaffirming the country’s commitment to root out foreign and domestic spies; all part of Xi’s “China Dream” narrative based on unity and patriotism. With an increasing number of Chinese willing to risk their lives spying for foreign intelligence, he certainly has his work cut out for him.