US State Department silent on ‘massive’ China spy revelations

Hillary Clinton
The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has declined to comment publicly on the arrest of a senior Chinese government aide, who is said to have conducted “massive” spying for Washington. According to Reuters news agency, who broke the story last week, the aide was arrested several months ago, but both the US and China have chosen to keep the issue under wraps in order “to prevent a fresh crisis in relations” between the two countries. Reuters cited “three sources [with] direct knowledge of the matter”, who said that the aide was employed at a critical post in the office of a vice minister in China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS). The MSS is China’s foremost intelligence agency, with responsibility for both domestic and international intelligence collection. According to the sources quoted by Reuters, the unnamed aide was arrested “sometime between January and March” of 2012 and stands accused of supplying his American handlers with classified information on Chinese espionage activities abroad. According to the report, the accused spy had been working for the US “for several years” and his case could represent the worst breach of China’s MSS in two decades; according to one source, the damage inflicted to the MSS’ operations by this case “has been massive”. Reuters said that the aide, who speaks English, was recruited by the US Central Intelligence Agency, and was paid “hundreds of thousands of US dollars” to provide “political, economic and strategic intelligence” to American intelligence officers. But the news agency said that the precise information that the aide gave his handlers remained unclear, while it was impossible to say whether actual Chinese spies had been compromised overseas as a result of the aide’s activities. The vice minister in charge of the office that employed the aide is said to have been suspended and is currently “being questioned” by Chinese authorities. Meanwhile, Chinese analysts say that the Reuters revelation represents a carefully planned leak by the CIA, aimed at intensifying the crisis in the Chinese intelligence community, which has worsened following the death of British businessman Neil Heywood in Chongqing, in November of 2011. Speaking last Friday in Oslo, Norway, US Secretary of State Clinton said only that China and the US “continued to cooperate on many issues”.

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