China's state security authority calls for awareness of counterespionage when studying abroad
Published: Feb 07, 2024 09:46 PM
Chinese Ministry of State Security

Chinese Ministry of State Security

China's top anti-espionage authority called for the public to enhance their awareness of counterespionage when studying abroad, after it published a case on its WeChat account on Wednesday, describing a story of an overseas university graduate who was recruited and turned to become a foreign spy by an intelligence agency while studying abroad, and engaged in espionage activities. 

According to the Ministry of State Security (MSS), a student surnamed Zhang (pseudonym) was admitted to a top-ranked oversea university in 2006 and became the class monitor. He gained the recognition of the school leader named Kaidi (pseudonym), and they became friends despite their age difference. However, it was precisely this "friend" that gradually pushed Zhang into a carefully designed trap by foreign intelligence agencies, causing him to become deeply entangled. 

Zhang was called to the office by Kaidi one day when he was in his third year at the college, and Kaidi enthusiastically introduced two foreigners to Zhang and claimed that Zhang was his student who had performed well academically. Kaidi said that Zhang could "help" them with their work. 

The two foreigners, who introduced themselves as Exxon (pseudonym) and Eason (pseudonym), exchanged contact information with Zhang. Over the following days, they asked Zhang for help in providing information about Chinese international students at the university and promised to reward Zhang generously. As their communication and contact deepened, their demands on Zhang increased, and the information they requested became more sensitive. 

Exxon and Eason directly revealed their identities as personnel from the spy intelligence agency when they put forward a series of demands to Zhang. They threatened Zhang by using sensitive information he had previously provided, and demanded that Zhang join the foreign spy intelligence agency. Under the temptation of money and threats from the foreign spy intelligence agency, the inexperienced Zhang became a "puppet" helping them steal secrets and monitor Chinese students studying abroad. 

In the following period, Zhang continued to study while regularly providing the foreign spy intelligence agency with the information they wanted to obtain, gradually letting go of his psychological burden. 

As graduation approached, many domestic research institutions and universities organized recruitment or exchange activities in the country where Zhang was studying. Due to his excellent communication skills and outstanding foreign language abilities, Zhang frequently contacted these institutions and began to consider returning to China for employment. However, Zhang was unable to meet the basic requirement of "all course grades must be A" set by these research institutions, making it difficult for him to achieve his goal. 

Kaidi once again approached Zhang and told him that Kaidi could not only help him change his transcript, but also write a recommendation letter to give Zhang the opportunity to work in a domestic research institution. In exchange, Zhang would have to continue "cooperating" with Exxon and Eason after returning to China. Faced with the temptation of personal gain, Zhang ultimately chose to comply and completely fell into the abyss of crime. 

Zhang was able to fulfill his wish of working in the research institute after returning to China with "help." Due to his weak mentality and the coercion and temptation from foreign spy agencies, Zhang did not report to the national security authorities immediately and continued to work for the foreign spy agency.

Due to his limited experience, the technical information and classified documents that Zhang had access to were not enough to meet the increasing demands of the foreign spy agency. Under their guidance, Zhang became a "zealous person" in the institute. 

One day, Zhang's colleague surnamed Li (pseudonym) was in a hurry to leave work, and Zhang offered to help him tidy up his desk. Once Li left, Zhang immediately opened his computer and stole confidential documents. 

A similar incident occurred when another colleague surnamed Wang (pseudonym) needed to destroy confidential information, and Zhang "eagerly" helped him take inventory and secretly kept files that were of "interest" to foreign intelligence agencies. 

Eventually, all of these confidential materials fell into the hands of foreign intelligence agencies, resulting in the leakage of China's scientific research data. Through meticulous investigation, the national security agencies timely identified Zhang's illegal activities and conducted a lawful investigation. In the end, Zhang was severely punished by the law for committing espionage.  

In this case, under the emotional manipulation, monetary temptation, and coercive control of foreign intelligence agencies, Zhang gradually made unreversible mistakes and lost himself, eventually embarking on the path of illegal activities, thus ruining his promising future and beautiful youth.  

The MSS reminded that during studying abroad and traveling overseas, it is important to firmly establish a sense of national security and awareness of counter-espionage, and promptly discover the hidden motives behind "friendly" interactions. Faced with various recruitment activities by foreign intelligence agencies, one must firmly guard the defense line and be vigilant against falling into the traps set by foreign intelligence agencies. 

The MSS said that according to Chinese law, if one is coerced or deceived into joining a spy organization or hostile organization abroad and engaging in activities that harm the national security, they should promptly explain the situation to the Chinese diplomatic mission abroad. They can also directly or through their organization, promptly explain the situation truthfully to the national security authorities after entering the country, and if show repentance, they may not be held accountable.