Chinese leaders are usually very tight lipped about all internal matters, especially cases of espionage. However in a video clip recently leaked onto YouTube, a Chinese general is seen talking candidly, revealing that China had covered up a number of spy cases in the past decade, mainly out of embarrassment.
The footage was apparently taken back on March 17 when Chinese Major General Jin Yinan gave a lecture at the headquarters of the state-owned China Life Insurance, one of China’s largest insurance companies.
Normally a lecturer at an elite military officer college in Beijing, Jin started going off near the end of his two and half hour talk about the many Communist Party members who have “turned rotten” and sold state secrets to foreign countries. His captive audience of China Life Insurance employees were apparently there as a part of an internal study session in the run-up to the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party early this summer.
In almost a resigned sigh, Jin talked about the case of Li Bin, the former Chinese ambassador to South Korea. Jin claimed Li passed on sensitive information to the South Koreans and when the authorities finally caught the ambassador, they ended up charging him with corruption instead of espionage because they thought it would be too embarrassing for China.
”That is a huge scandal,” Jin said in the video. “Li Bin [could] only be sentenced to seven, eight years. He could not be given a longer term. Why? To save face.”
”In all the world, what nation’s ambassador serves as another country’s spy?” Jin said.
He also goes on to talk about another senior official who spied – just as his father had done a generation before – but at least the father did not do it for the other side.
Among the other nuggets Jin shared in his presentation: a senior military officer accused of selling intelligence after being passed over for a promotion; a high-level official executed for being a spy for Taiwan; another official who passed sensitive documents to the British during the negotiations over Hong Kong’s return; and a government think-tank scholar who had the audacity to be on the payroll of five foreign intelligence services.
”After decades of economic reforms, we are witnessing the lack of ideological strength and the breaching of our ‘spiritual dam’ leading to this recent round of betrayal,” he opined.
In is unknown why Jin was so uncharacteristically open in sharing this information with this particular insurance-selling audience but one could imagine that these stories were being offered up as a cautionary tales.
Beijing has, on the other hand, characteristically not commented on the video but it has been removed from most Chinese video-sharing sites.