United Press International : April 18, 2008 at 5:40 PM
By ANDREI CHANGHONG KONG, April 18 (UPI) -
- China's intelligence agency has reinforced its infiltration activities in Europe, North America, Japan and Russia in recent years. An analysis of numerous cases leads to the conclusion that China has shifted its tactics in recruiting citizens of Western countries.
Beijing has abandoned the traditional approach of ideological persuasion, turning instead to the use of blackmail, women and money -- quite similar to the practices employed by the former Soviet Union's KGB and the former East German Intelligence Agency. A series of "massage salon" incidents involving Japanese diplomats in Beijing and Shanghai are typical examples.
At the same time, the targets of recruitment by Chinese intelligence agents are switching from ethnic Chinese to local personnel of mainstream society who work in core government departments.
The core personnel for public political work remain overseas Chinese, however. In recent years, whenever China has had a major dispute with the international community over human rights or some political issue, Chinese nationals stationed in Europe and North America, as well as local ethnic Chinese residents, have organized a large political demonstration. These efforts have been highly visible as the Olympic Torch has made its way around the world, where Tibetan protesters in many locations have been outnumbered by vocal Chinese supporters of the Beijing Olympics.
Behind these demonstrations, the infiltration by Chinese agents is becoming more obvious. In some European countries and the United States, Chinese agents have penetrated to the point that they can interfere with domestic affairs through the recruitment of local agents in their host country.
Take Toronto as an example. Since 1999 Chinese students and visiting scholars in Toronto have launched several major political demonstrations. In 1999, during the Kosovo conflict, Chinese students and scholars twice joined so-called anti-war demonstrations in support of the Serbs. After the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was mistakenly bombed by a U.S. B-2A stealth bomber, another protest took place in which some Chinese attacked the U.S. Consulate with rocks. Some of the demonstrators were ethnic Chinese who had already obtained Canadian citizenship.
The next major Chinese demonstration took place in 2001 right after Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games -- with considerable political impact. Many Chinese students in Toronto and some Chinese Canadians turned out to celebrate Beijing's victory on the streets of Toronto.
As was widely known, during the fierce fight to host the Olympics that took place that year in Moscow, Beijing's biggest competitor was Toronto. After the Chinese demonstration, mainstream media carried a number of editorials and letters from readers, most of which were very critical of the behavior of the Chinese in flaunting their win in the face of the defeated citizens of Toronto.
The Chinese forces turned out yet again during the recent spate of protests against Tibetan independence, which have paralleled Tibetan demonstrations along the route of the Olympic Torch and elsewhere. These pro-China rallies took place in several major U.S. and Canadian cities, including Toronto.
The Toronto police approved the Chinese application to hold a demonstration, but the report that was sent back to China by the Toronto correspondent of the Global Times -- a Chinese newspaper with official backing -- accused the police of unfair treatment.
During these anti-Tibet demonstrations, Chinese Web sites have been filled with nationalist propaganda and bloggers using profane expressions and smearing the Tibetans and the Western media, which is accused of a pro-Tibet bias. No mainland China media have reported events in Tibet fairly or objectively or called for dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.
Every time the Chinese have been called to the streets for political action, visiting Chinese scholars and representatives from Chinese student associations at Toronto universities have played a leading role in organizing and conducting these events. Such associations exist on many U.S. and Canadian campuses. Most of them were set up after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on student demonstrators in Beijing.
Originally these Chinese student organizations opposed the Beijing regime. However, since 1995 they have gradually shifted toward a pro-Beijing position. Diplomats assigned to the Education Section of a Chinese Embassy or Consulate become deeply involved with these associations -- monitoring their activities, sometimes openly funding them, or offering financial support to students judged to be pro-China.
Members of these associations are not always Chinese students, however. Some have already graduated and become U.S. or Canadian citizens. Leaders of such groups often include family members of current and former students. Of course, all of them are originally from China.
There is credible evidence that the large number of community organizations that have emerged in Chinese communities in the United States and Canada are actually receiving financial support from the Chinese embassies and consulates. Diplomats often take advantage of their special connections to introduce members of these community organizations to business opportunities in China. Very often, Chinese diplomats will participate in important political activities by these organizations.
As a consequence, strange things begin to happen. Members of Chinese student associations who were never concerned about military affairs or the Taiwan issue suddenly become very familiar with those issues or with hot military topics. They acquire a habit of raising questions to local experts concerning Taiwan or U.S. military affairs.
During periods of tension across the Taiwan Strait Chinese students, and former students, become particularly inquisitive. Some of them hold doctorate degrees; some have acquired citizenship in the host country. They seek out experts on matters related to the Taiwan issue, especially trying to assess how the United States might interfere in a possible conflict. Some do not hold steady jobs, yet they manage to make several trips back to China every year.
More peculiar things then occur. Reports on Chinese demonstrations in North American cities are filed by reporters for official mainland China media. But when phone calls are made to the media headquarters in Beijing, based on the information on the reporters' name cards, the staff deny any knowledge of their existence. After these "Chinese journalists" return to China from the United States and Canada, it is virtually impossible to locate them through the media they claimed to work for.
Similar incidents occur with regard to officials in the Education Sections of Chinese embassies or consulates in North American cities. These people generally claim that they were assigned to their posts by the State Education Commission or a certain Chinese university. But surprisingly, when the university in question is contacted by telephone, it will say it never heard of such a person.
Then who do these people really work for? The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Canadian Intelligence Service might find the answer of interest.
Readers of this article can test this for themselves by obtaining the name card of a Chinese journalist or diplomat responsible for education, and calling the office of his or her media or institution in Beijing. After numerous such tests, experiences and observations, this author's conclusion is that the number of Chinese spies who work in the United States and Canada is much larger than the number who worked for the former Soviet KGB.
(Andrei Chang is editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto.)
© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved