China investigating 39-year-old citizen accused of spying for CIA

China says suspect was asked to ‘provide intelligence and collect espionage funds’

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 21 August 2023 12:43 BST
Related: The Philippines accuses China of firing water cannon on coast guard vessel

Beijing is investigating a Chinese national for allegedly spying for the US, the second such case in less than a month as it intensified a crackdown on espionage.

The Chinese Ministry of State Security on Monday said it was investigating a 39-year-old official surnamed Hao for providing the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) intelligence in exchange for money.

The ministry said Hao was recruited by a US embassy staff known as Ted during study in Japan and the two became acquainted while sorting out a visa application. Hao’s gender was not revealed.

He invited Hao for dinners, presented gifts and sought help with writing a paper for which Ted promised to pay, the ministry said.

Ted then introduced Hao to his colleague Li Jun, who worked for the CIA's Tokyo office, according to Beijing.

Before Hao completed his studies, Li Jun "instigated Hao into rebelling", urging Hao to return to China to work for a "core and critical unit".

Hao signed an espionage agreement, accepting assessment and training from the US, the ministry added.

After returning to China, Hao began working at a government ministry and repeatedly met an alleged CIA agent to provide "intelligence and collect espionage funds".

The ministry's statement comes just a week after it claimed to have uncovered another Chinese national spying for the CIA. The suspect surnamed Zang allegedly developed a close relationship with an American embassy official in Italy named Seth.

Seth was working for the CIA in Rome and asked Zeng to provide "core information" in exchange for payment, Beijing claimed.

Beijing's public announcement of cases of alleged espionage comes weeks after CIA director William Burns said the US agency has made progress in rebuilding the spy network in China.

China, meanwhile, has called on its citizens to participate in counter-espionage work, after expanding its anti-spying law in July. It also offered rewards and protection for those who provided information.

Relations between the US and China have soured in recent years over a range of issues, including national security. Washington has accused Beijing of espionage and cyberattacks, charges China has rejected.

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