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Chinese general Jin Yinan’s sensitive spy talk leaked online

Posted by Author on August 30, 2011

Footage of a Chinese general discussing sensitive spying cases has been leaked on to YouTube in what appears to be an embarrassing failure of secrecy for the usually tightlipped military.

It was not clear when or where Major General Jin Yinan made the comments and China’s defence ministry did not respond to questions about the video. Calls to the National Defence University, where Jin is a lecturer, went unanswered.

While some of the cases had been announced before, few details had been released, while others involving the military had been entirely secret.

Among those Jin discussed was that of former ambassador to South Korea Li Bin, who was sentenced to seven years for corruption. Jin said Li had been discovered passing secrets to South Korea that compromised China’s position in North Korean nuclear disarmament talks, but the allegations were too embarrassing to make public and graft charges were brought instead.

“In all the world, what nation’s ambassador serves as another country’s spy?” Jin said.

Similar treatment was handed out to the former head of China’s nuclear power programme, Kang Rixin, who was sentenced to life in prison last November on charges of corruption. Jin said Kang had in fact peddled secrets about China’s civilian nuclear programme to a foreign nation that he did not identify, but that was considered too sensitive to bring up in court.

Kang, a member of the ruling Communist party’s powerful central committee as well as its disciplinary arm, was one of the highest-ranking officials ever to be involved in spying, Jin said. His arrest dealt a huge shock to the party leadership, Jin said.

“The party centre was extremely nervous. They ordered top-to-bottom inspections and spared no individual,” he said.

Jin also talked about Tong Daning, an official from China’s social security fund, who was executed in 2006 after being convicted on charges of spying for rival Taiwan. Jin said Tong had passed information to the island’s leaders about China’s currency regime, allowing them to avoid massive losses due to exchange rate changes.

Among the cases involving military personnel, Jin said that of Colonel Xu Junping, who defected to the US in 2000, did not involve the loss of any technical secrets.

Instead, Xu relayed to the Americans his knowledge of the military leadership’s personalities, attitudes and habits gleaned from many years accompanying the top brass on trips abroad, Jin said.

The video was also posted on Chinese websites, and while it was removed from most locations, screen shots, audio files and transcripts of Jin’s comments could still be found on sites such as Sina Weibo’s popular microblogging service.

Jin’s presentation, complete with explanatory slides, was typical of how such cases are discussed at private sessions as a warning to Communist party cadres not to be lured into espionage or corruption. The leaked video appeared to have been from an official recording rather than filmed by a member of the audience.

Authorities heavily police the Chinese internet but can only remove objectionable content after it is posted and have no control over what appears elsewhere.

While the Chinese are enthusiastic users of social media, YouTube and Facebook are blocked inside China and their Chinese equivalents are required to inspect all content and remove politically sensitive material before being ordered to do so.

The Guardian

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