Rumours that top Chinese security official defected to U.S. gain strength

Rumours that top Chinese security official defected to U.S. gain strength
AP Photo/Andy Wong
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Some analysts speculate that Dong Jingwei, the number two official in the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), has defected to the United States following rumours that began in recent weeks. 

Chinese media has claimed that Dong addressed intelligence officers in China last week during a seminar, but no information or images of the event have been provided, which leaves many to believe there may be truth to the rumours. 

Dr. Han Lianchao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official who defected after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, told the Daily Beast that the last time Dong was seen in public was in September 2020.

The Daily Beast reported:

Dong’s photos have been deleted by the Chinese search engine Baidu, according to some Chinese-language news reports abroad. The absence of any photos of Dong at the supposed June 18 seminar is doubly suspicious, Han said, because Beijing has not been shy about publicizing his public meetings before. In 2018, party officials posted a photo of him in Germany, along with his boss Chen Yixin, attending a high level Sino-German security meeting. “Therefore there’s no excuse for not posting a recent photo of Dong to refute the rumor,” Han said.

In a June 16 tweet, Han, citing an unnamed source, alleged that China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and Communist Party foreign affairs boss Yang Jiechi demanded that the Americans return Dong. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken refused, Han alleged. “My tweet about Dong Jingwei came from a source from China,” Han told SpyTalk on Monday, “and I used it to make a point that rumors are flying all over China today because the CCP’s digital dictatorship has totally stopped the free flow of information.”

Speaking to the Daily Beast, Nicholas Eftimiades, a former official at the Pentagon and CIA, said that it was suspicious that China has not put Dong in front of cameras to quell the rumours of him defecting. 

Eftimiades added by saying it’s telling that “Beijing has made no flat denial and hasn’t produced Dong publicly. So there is no clear indication of what’s happening,” but disputed Han’s account of Chinese censorship. 

“If the defection of Dong—a rough equivalent of the FBI’s deputy director—is real, shock waves would be felt in every corner of the Ministry of State Security,” Eftimiades said. “The Chinese side is likely taking normal damage control action, such as pulling officers and agents out of places they shouldn’t be and assessing what harm is done should Dong tell the American all he knows. But his access was probably limited to counterintelligence matters and didn’t include a wider range of secrets.”

“But Beijing might have a much bigger problem on its hands,” he added. “Did Dong just decide to defect, or has he been an intelligence asset for some period of time?”

Eftimiades said that China would be humiliated if Dong “suddenly pops up in the American media” and that China could be “gambling the U.S. won’t allow him to go public, but it would be quite a humiliation for them if he did.” He went on to add that that if the U.S. has Dong it will eventually become public. 

Speaking to Newsmax last week, one Chinese analyst said that if Dong defected, it could lead to “the fall of the Communist Party.” The same analyst told Fox News on Monday night that he believes the rumours to be true because China “has every reason in the world to parade this guy in front of the cameras” to “squelch all sorts of rumors that are damaging to the regime.”

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