Chinese-language anti-Communist media and Twitter are abuzz this week with rumors that Deputy State Security Minister Dong Jingwei defected in mid-February, flying from Hong Kong to the United States with his daughter, Dong Yang.
Dong Jingwei reportedly gave the United States information about the Wuhan Institute of Virology that changed the Biden administration’s position regarding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dong is, or was, a longtime official in China’s State Security Ministry (MSS), also known as Guoanbu. His publicly available background indicates that he was responsible for the ministry’s counterintelligence efforts in China – that is, the capture of spies – since he was promoted to vice minister in April 2018. If the stories are true, Dong would be the highest level defector in history. of the People’s Republic of China.
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Dong’s defection was raised by Chinese officials last March at the China-US summit in Alaska, according to Dr Han Lianchao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official, before defecting after the Tiananmen Square massacre. in 1989. On a Wednesday TweeterHan, citing an anonymous source, alleged that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Communist Party Foreign Chief Yang Jiechi demanded that the Americans surrender Dong, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken refused.
Former Pentagon, State Department and CIA expert Nicholas Eftimiades, author of Chinese espionage: operations and tactics, called the report “exactly what it is, a rumor. It happens all the time ”in the information war between Beijing and the anticommunist overseas Chinese. But he called Dr. Han, a pro-democracy activist with the Washington, DC-based Citizen Power Initiative for China, “a straight shooter, who is not known to exaggerate in any way or form … trust for its integrity “.
Mollie Saltskog, senior intelligence analyst at the Soufan Group and with a master’s degree in global affairs from Tsinghua University in Beijing, also urged caution, saying rumors of defections regularly surfaced. “While important and certainly useful for our intelligence efforts,” she added, “a high-level defection will not drastically change our understanding or our approach to China. In short, if this is true, it is potentially important but does not change the game. “
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment at press time. He usually does not comment on defectors. Half a dozen Chinese intelligence experts interviewed by SpyTalk said they had no information to share about Dong’s alleged defection.
News reports in Chinese also claim that Dong’s daughter, Yang, defected with him from Hong Kong on or around February 10. She is said to be the ex-wife of a senior Alibaba executive, Jiang Fan, who runs TMall, the large Chinese Amazon-type company.
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Without naming Dong, the pro-Trump Red State website reported on June 4 of a high-level defection from China, saying the Defense Intelligence Agency had received information from him that Beijing was covering up research into the biological warfare at the Wuhan laboratory and had advanced his story of questioning the integrity of Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Sources say the level of confidence in the defector’s information is what led to a sudden crisis of confidence in Dr Anthony Fauci, adding that staff from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) on secondment with the DIA corroborated very technical details of information provided by the defector, ”he said.
According to the authoritative Paris-based newsletter Online Intelligence, Dong is “close” to Chinese President Xi Jinping. “He previously headed the Guoanbu in the Hebei region, which has produced many Xi securocrats, ”the publication reported in 2018. In 2010, OI reported that Dong carried out orders from his superiors in Beijing to arrest “four Japanese employees of the Fujita Corporation who were filming in a no-go military zone.” This decision was viewed at the time as a power play by State Security against then-president Hu Jintao.
Meanwhile, the official Chinese State Council webpage listing senior officials of the Ministry of State Security no longer lists vice ministers working under the direction of Minister of the SSM Chen Wenqing. Under “staff developments,” he notes the corruption investigation against another former deputy minister, Ma Jian, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2018. The deputy minister’s section is empty.
Co-published with SpyTalk, where Jeff Stein leads a star-studded team of investigative journalists, writers and seasoned experts who will take you behind the scenes of the National Security State. Subscribe to get full access to newsletter and website.
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