Reuters reports the arrest earlier this year of an aide in China’s State Security Ministry, who allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars to spy for the US.
The official, an aide to a vice minister in China’s security ministry, was arrested and detained early this year on allegations that he had passed information to the United States for several years on China’s overseas espionage activities, said three sources, who all have direct knowledge of the matter.
The aide had been recruited by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and provided “political, economic and strategic intelligence”, one source said, though it was unclear what level of information he had access to, or whether overseas Chinese spies were compromised by the intelligence he handed over.
The case could represent China’s worst known breach of state intelligence in two decades and its revelation follows two other major public embarrassments for Chinese security [the cases of Wang Lijun and Chen Guangcheng], both involving U.S. diplomatic missions at a tense time for bilateral ties.
The New York Times gave further details of the growing pressure facing China’s colossal security apparatus:
A senior [Obama] administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said the detention came during the same period as a series of investigations begun after the revelations in the Bo affair. The investigations, authorized by China’s top leaders, have expanded beyond Mr. Bo to the Ministry of State Security and now include allegations of improper use of the security services by various Chinese officials and corruption, the official said.
It was not clear that the espionage case was related in any way to the other investigations.
“There is clearly some very intense stuff going on with the security ministry,” the official said. “It’s hard to tell exactly, but it’s clearly maneuvering going on after Bo.”
Both China’s State Security Ministry and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have declined to comment on the case, with Clinton reiterating the importance of a harmonious broader relationship over any particular incident. From Reuters:
“The goal for our relationship with China is to ensure that we defy history,” Clinton said. “It has never happened that an established, preeminent power, and a rising power, have been able to find a way to not only coexist but cooperate … We intend to make history with our relationship with China.”