China unveils case where MI6 recruited Chinese couple as spies
Published: Jun 03, 2024 07:55 AM Updated: Jun 03, 2024 09:54 PM
cyber attack Photo:VCG

cyber attack Photo:VCG

China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) disclosed on Monday morning a major espionage case involving the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruiting a couple from a central state agency in China.

After a thorough investigation, the national security agency uncovered a significant espionage case involving MI6 recruiting an employee surnamed Wang and his spouse surnamed Zhou, the MSS said in a post published on its WeChat account.

As China's international status and influence continue to grow, Western countries are employing increasingly complex methods of infiltration, some experts warned. This requires China to further enhance its anti-espionage education and the public awareness, they noted. 

In 2015, Wang applied to participate in a China-UK exchange program to study in the UK. MI6, valuing his position in a core confidential role, quickly facilitated the approval of his application, according to the MSS. 

Upon Wang's arrival in the UK, MI6 arranged for personnel to provide him with special attention, including dining invitations and sightseeing tours, to understand his personality weaknesses and hobbies.

After discovering Wang's strong desire for money, MI6 personnel, posing as alumni, befriended him on campus and offered him a part-time consulting opportunity with high compensation. Tempted by financial incentives, Wang agreed to engage in paid consulting.

Initially, the British side used public research projects as a pretext, gradually involving Wang in core matters of the central state agency, with payments significantly higher than normal consulting fees.

Although Wang became suspicious, he continued providing "consulting" services under the lure of substantial money.

After some time, the British side assessed the situation as mature and introduced MI6 personnel to Wang, revealing their identities and requesting his services for the British government, promising higher remuneration and security guarantees.

Seeking personal gain, Wang agreed to the British demands and completed the espionage procedures.

MI6 provided professional spy training for Wang and instructed him to return to China to gather important intelligence.

Wang's wife, Zhou, also worked in a critical department. MI6, confident in their control over Wang, repeatedly pressured him to recruit his wife, promising double compensation.

Despite initial hesitation, Wang succumbed to persistent persuasion, inducement, and even threats from the British side, eventually convincing Zhou to agree to gather intelligence for them.

Thus, Wang and his wife both became spies for the British side.

With a thorough investigation and solid evidence, the Chinese national security agency decisively took action, legally detaining and interrogating Wang and Zhou, thereby uncovering a significant MI6 operative within China's internal system. The case is currently under further investigation.

This is another case in which the UK's MI6 engaged in espionage activities against China, unveiled by China's MSS. In January, Chinese authorities disclosed a case in which MI6 used foreign personnel from "a third country" for espionage targeting China.

Anti-espionage efforts needed 

The British intelligence agency as a very well-established organization have been dedicated to developing human intelligence through various means for a long time, Li Wei, a researcher and security expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"As a core member of the Five Eyes and with a close relationship with the CIA, some of MI6's activities are in fact coordinated with those of the CIA," Li said.  

Despite the seemingly declining international status of the UK, their role as a member of the Five Eyes and their cooperation with the CIA remains a very important aspect of their intelligence work, the expert noted. 

Some experts believed that such cases are typical, with foreign intelligence agencies recruiting Chinese couples for their spy activities, which requires China to enhance anti-espionage education for anyone participating in international programs.

The British government has specifically allocated budgets for recruiting Chinese personnel and increasing the number of institutions and staff dedicated to studying China within the government, including arrangements for specific China-related intelligence, Gao Jian, director of the Center for British Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"The continuous public disclosure of various espionage cases by the Chinese government is also aimed at raising public awareness of security," Gao said, noting that in an era where major power rivalries are becoming increasingly intense, it is urgent to enhance the national security awareness. 

"We should not assume that only the US is conducting espionage activities against us or that only certain countries are doing so. Beyond the Five Eyes, some US allies may also follow the instructions of the US to target China with intelligence and espionage activities," Li said.