Posted on Beijing Bulletin – Monday 22nd May, 2017

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In a shocking expose, a report in The New York Times has revealed how the Chinese government “systematically dismantled” CIA spying operations in China from 2010.

According to the report, the Chinese operations against CIA spies working in the country began in late 2010 and for two years since then, China is said to have killed or imprisoned at least a dozen CIA sources.

The report cites 10 current and former U.S. officials who remained anonymous and described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades.

In dealing with the breach, the officials revealed that the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies were bitterly divided over the cause of the breach.

The CIA and FBI had joined hands to investigate the events in an operation that was reportedly codenamed Honey Badger.

They said that while some of the investigators were convinced there was a mole within the CIA, others believed the Chinese had hacked the covert system the CIA used to communicate with its foreign sources.

As they scrambled to contain the damage, investigators reportedly suspected a former CIA operative of being a mole.

They however failed to gather enough evidence to arrest him and he is now said to be living in another Asian country.

Others, who did not believe there was a mole, blamed the losses on sloppy American tradecraft in China.

The report revealed that as a result of the betrayals by both CIA officer Aldrich Ames and FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who were arrested in 1994 and 2001, the number of CIA assets lost in China rivaled those lost in the Soviet Union and Russia.

The Times quoted two former senior U.S. officials as saying that over a two-year period, as many as 20 CIA sources were killed or imprisoned in China.

The report even cited an incident when one of the informants was shot in the courtyard of a government building as a warning to others.

Further, it revealed that in 2012, an official at China’s security ministry was arrested on suspicion of spying for the U.S.

A New York Times journalist who worked on the story, Matt Apuzzo said in a statement to BBC, «One of the really troubling things about this is that we still don’t know what happened. There’s a divide within the American government over whether there was a mole inside the CIA or whether this was a tradecraft problem, that the CIA agents got sloppy and got discovered, or whether the Chinese managed to hack communications.»

Apuzzo added, “For many years China and the U.S. have been locked in this spy battle that’s been going on behind the scenes. While doing this story we uncovered that Chinese intelligence have been able to infiltrate an NSA outpost in Taiwan. It goes back and forth.»

The report further pointed out that by 2013, the FBI and CIA concluded that China no longer had the ability to identify American agents.

It said that in 2015, the CIA pulled staff out of the U.S. embassy in Beijing following a hack that exposed information about millions of U.S. federal employees, blaming the hack on the Chinese state.


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