1,000 Chinese Spies in Australia

This post originates from the story about Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin wanting to seek political asylum (which has been rejected) or a protection visa (which is under consideration) in Australia.  I have nothing to say about the merits of Chen's case per se because I have no confidence in anything that has been said.  Thus, I won't deal with the matter of Chen Yonglin.  But I am intrigued by one assertion:

(Reuters)  Chen said that there were up to 1,000 Chinese spies in Australia.

This is intriguing for several reasons.

First of all, I have lived several years in Australia, and I cannot for the life of me see why any country would go through the trouble of placing 1,000 spies in Australia.  Sure, China must be interested in the government ministries concerned with defense, trade and foreign diplomacy.  It is interested in the American listening posts.  It is definitely interested in the activities of F*L*G members and dissidents in Australia.  But those interests are not served by sheer numbers of spies; it requires the insertion or recruitment of only a few people in strategic positions.  For example, China can just infiltrate the F*L*G or blackmail a dissident into cooperating.

To get a sense of proportion, there are 1,000 Chinese spies for Australia, with a population of about 20 million.  By comparison, the population of the United States is 280 million.  By proportion, there ought to be 1,000 x 280 / 20 = 14,000 Chinese spies in the United States.  This is a lower bound, since the United States is more complex and important.  The population of China is about 5 times that of the United States, so a comparable effort would be 14,000 x 5 = 70,000 American spies in China.  Do you believe that the United States has enough spymasters, support staff and analysts to manage 70,000 American spies in China and analyze their information?

Secondly, how does anyone even manage 1,000 spies (much less 14,000 or 70,000)?  You can't even remember their names, much less what they are supposed to be working on.  The larger the spy network, the more likely that it will be detected.  If one spy is detected, then the spymaster will be identified and then the other members of the network can be detected.  If there is a really important source, then you wouldn't want more one or two people to know the identity of the source.  So if these are important spies, you need separate teams of spymasters and supporting crews that are compartmentalized.  Again, we are talking about an unimaginably massive command/control/communication system just for Australia.

Thirdly, let us suppose that I can recruit 1,000 persons in Australia to collect information for me.  Most of these spies are likely to be placed through historical and personal circumstances.  For example, a Chinese male goes to study medicine in Australia and stays after graduation to work in an army hospital.  Periodically, this doctor agrees to send me some information from his job.  I could not tell him what I am looking for because it depends on what he happens to come across and I also don't know if I will need it some day in the future, but I will take as much of whatever he can give me.  So I manage to collect a stack of reports.  I have another 999 people in similar situations, and they may be restaurant owners, travel agency operators, government clerks, teachers, truck drivers, preachers, etc.  Yes, I have stacks and stacks of reports coming from these people over the years.  What good are these millions of pieces of unconnected datum that were collected haphazardly and opportunistically?  This is like the story about the blind men trying to figure out the elephant.  More information is not necessarily better, if you don't know how to assemble it.

Really, if I want to get the big picture on Australia, I am better off trying to read some newspapers, watch some television news, attend some press conferences, get accredited as a reporter and interview politicians, obtain government documents legally and do a lot of internet research.  At least, I can control what I need to know and know what I don't know.  If you do give me 1,000 spies supposedly to get at information that is not publicly available, I would go through the list and purge 900 of them as being worthless, use the 20 who are truly productive in areas of interest and keep the other 80 as potentially useful when the right situation arises.  This is a rational economic decision based upon a consideration of the return on investment.  More is not better under most criteria.

Fourthly, it has been more recently argued by others that the cited 1,000 figure refers not to full-time spies on payroll, but to people who provide information of various sorts (see, for example, ABC).  Here, it would do well to discuss the twin notions of "mosaic espionage" and "reverse mosaic espionage."

In a speech to the Committee of 100, Chinese-American businessman George Koo described "mosaic espionage."  Here, he talked about the Cox report on the subject of Chinese espionage in China:

Henry Tang, the chairman of the Committee [of 100] sent me a copy in time for my business trip to Korea when I read over much of the 900-page report. Three-volume, 900 pages may seem a lot to you, but actually it was a fairly easy read. The hard part was lugging the report around. The report unlike most government publications is nicely formatted, with a lot of photos and colorful charts, in large fonts and full of statements in bold face. It is a slick piece of work, more like a product of Madison Avenue than staid Capitol Hill.

The only problem with this report is that it contains flat out misrepresentations, gross exaggerations, flying leaps of logic and claims that cannot stand up to rigorous scrutiny. 


The reason I am dwelling so much on the Cox Report is not just because this is the most disgusting and disgraceful piece of work to come out of Congress since Senator Joseph McCarthy days, which it is, but because this report victimized all Chinese Americans living in this country. This report accused China of practicing mosaic espionage. What they mean by this is that China is patient and willing to collect random tidbits and piece them together into one devastating breach in national security. And who do they turn to, to collect these tidbits? Why the Chinese Americans living in this country, of course. ... What sort of evidence did the Cox Report offer to back up their claim? Nothing. Zip. Not one shred of hard data.

Let me give you just one example of how the Cox committee reached their conclusions. The report indicates that the State Department can identify 2 companies from China based in the U.S. with connections to the People's Liberation Army. The AFL-CIO, no friend of China as you all know, thinks it closer to 12 or more. The Committee concludes that the number is closer to 3000! 3000 companies sent from China connected to the PLA for the ostensible purpose of collecting tidbits big and small. Where did the committee arrive at the 3000 number? The report did not say. 

The report then talks about the 100,000 students from China that are in the U.S. and goes on to speculate about the instructions they were given by the Beijing government on the kind of information they should collect. The report makes no distinction between visitors from China on a short trip and those that might be living in the U.S. as permanent residents. The intent of the report is to alienate China and if implication that all Chinese Americans are potential spies becomes a by-product, so be it.  

[Digression: 3,000 companies?  In the early 1990's, I spent three months of my life combing through hundreds of boxes of business records and correspondence files for about 100 of those US-based Chinese-government-owned companies.  Those records had been seized by the U.S. Customs Service on suspicion of a conspiracy to illegally circumvent American trade quotas, and I was brought in as a Chinese-language expert to hunt for evidence.  The end of that investigation was ... nothing.  Not a single indictment was issued.  But I personally learned a great deal about textile terminology, letters of credit, transshipment, tax avoidance/evasion, etc.  I'll leave that whole sorry episode for some other time.]

But George Koo does admit to having acted as a "reverse mosaic spy," albeit unwittingly:

Parenthetically, in my early days of going to China on business, I would be interviewed by CIA agents and sometimes by FBI agents on my return.  I cooperated willingly thinking that I was helping our government better understand China.  Little did I know that I was participating in reverse mosaic espionage.

Was George Koo a spy for the CIA/FBI then?  He was in a general sense, but not in a specific sense.  Virtually everyone who visited China in the early or mid-1970's was interviewed by the CIA/FBI, whether he/she was a business person, academic scholar, student or press reporter.  Thus, every American visitor back then can be said to have been "spying" for the CIA/FBI, and that is why Koo called it "reverse mosaic espionage."  It wouldn't matter if you yelled at the FBI agents to get out immediately, because it would have gone into their logs as a contact; if you want to 'clear' yourself by doing a FOIA request on that contact report, you may get a piece of paper where everything is blacked out except for your name for reasons of national security.  The "reverse mosaic espionage" might have continued up to today, but for the fact that there are many more American visitors than available federal agents to do the work.

Where did all the information from these fishing expeditions go?  Remember the last scene of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, where the Ark of the Convenant was crated and carted away to a huge warehouse of similar US government 'secrets.'  Likewise, the information must have fallen into a blackhole, for who in the government has time and expertise to sort through millions of pieces of disparate pieces of information?

Perhaps that was missing the point.  Perhaps it was more important to collect the information for the sake of collecting information rather than to actually use it.  Perhaps the point of the whole exercise was the message for the interviewees.  And that message was that the CIA and the FBI are tracking you, so you better watch what you do and tell everyone else that you know to watch what they are doing too.  In that sense, the Chinese government should have "recruited" many more than 1,000 Chinese "spies" in Australia.

(SCMP)  China's spy wars. By Peter Kammerer.  June 12, 2005.

A chill wind is blowing in the corridors of the world's anti-espionage agencies. Another cold war has begun, but this time the struggle for global dominance against the west is being spearheaded by Chinese mainland, not Soviet, spies.

Neither side knows the extent of the threat they are battling. But with the number of spy cases rising and secrets clearly having been stolen, governments are battening down the security hatches.

Western observers say China's economic rise and thirst for military and political power has meant untold numbers of its spies are sleuthing for the plans of high-technology equipment, an inside track to the thinking of governments and information on those considered threatening.

To protect their interests, North American, European and Australian governments have revamped anti-spying agencies, while stepping up efforts to find out more about the workings of the new-look China.

Western counter-espionage officials term mainland spies their biggest threat since the depths of the cold war in the late 1980s, claiming that in recent years they have supplanted those from Russia as the biggest cause for concern.

What worries them most is that the mainland's spies work in an unfamiliar manner. Rather than operating from diplomatic missions, they use front companies and students, academics, businessmen and tourists - for a country like the United States, potentially hundreds of thousands of people.

This month Australia announced it had set up a new counter-espionage unit to track down foreign spies, most notably Chinese agents. Government sources, claiming that foreign spies were as numerous as at the height of the cold war, said China was making ever-increasing efforts to gather intelligence on military-related technology and strategic policy secrets.

Their fears have been strengthened in the past two weeks by revelations from three high-level Chinese defectors about the extent of spying in Australia.

Diplomat Chen Yonglin , from China's consulate in Sydney, and policeman Hao Fengjun alleged that the mainland had 1,000 spies and informants in the country, many of them monitoring the activities of dissident movements such as the Falun Gong meditation group. A third, unnamed man claiming to have been a senior officer in a branch of the Chinese security service known as "610" backed their accusations.

All are seeking political asylum, claiming their lives would be in danger if they were forced back to China.

The mainland has rejected Mr Chen's and Mr Hao's allegations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in Beijing: "They have on various occasions expressed views and used words which we believe are only fabrications and lies."

But for American counter-intelligence experts there is nothing unusual about the two men's stories. They have been warning since the mid-1990s of the activities of China's spies. The May 1999 report of the US House of Representatives select committee chaired by Christopher Cox damningly - and controversially - detailed the nature of the threat. As American competition with China grows, the report's findings have been updated frequently by officials.

In February, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's leader in spy-catching, David Szady, asked American companies to stop the theft of business and technology information. He named Russia, Iran, Cuba and North Korea as being among countries spying against the US, but focused on activities by the Chinese.

He told the National Intelligence Conference and Exposition in Arlington, Virginia, that the Chinese presence was pervasive. At least 3,000 Chinese false-front companies existed so that spying could be carried out, but that was only the tip of a growing iceberg. Students, academics, delegations and tourists were also being used and, being in the US legitimately, they were more difficult to deal with.

"There are 150,000 students from China - some of those are sent here to work their way up into the corporations," said Mr Szady, the FBI assistant director for counter-intelligence. "There are about 300,000 Chinese visitors annually and 15,000 delegations touring the US every year." All, he said, were potential spies, either gathering information or being questioned about what they had seen or heard when they returned to China.

"Even as we increase our numbers of agents, we can't possibly totally stop it," he said. "If you have a little national asset, whatever it is ... they want that little thing that you produce. They need it so they can make their missile fly straighter; so they can compete in electronic warfare; and you have that key component."

Another intelligence official said: "The Chinese are robbing us blind. The 10-year technological advantage we had is vanishing." The argument has been extended by US President George W. Bush's administration to claim that China's ultimate aim is to crush American economic and military dominance of the world.

Mr Bush's former deputy assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific Affairs, Peter Brookes, said China's goal was to replace the US as the "pre-eminent power in the Pacific - even globally". Every method possible, including spying, was being used to improve its political, economic and, especially, military might.

Last year, a Chinese-American couple in the state of Wisconsin were arrested for selling the mainland US$500,000 in computer parts that could be used to enhance missile systems. Suspicions heightened when China unveiled a new cruise missile strikingly similar to the American advanced Tomahawk.

American intelligence officers claim that theft of high-technology secrets by mainlanders is increasing at between 20 and 30 per cent a year. One of the more troubling cases involved Silicon Valley businessman and American resident Martin Shih who, while running successful companies in the US and Taiwan, was also spying for China.

He provided cutting-edge night-vision technology to Chinese organisations, including the military-linked North China Research Institute. In June 2002, he went to the mainland and met scientists, whom he gave information about the latest American technology in the field. Shih was later arrested in the US and faces 45 years in prison. Mr Brookes said mainland espionage operations were markedly different from those of the cold war portrayed on television and in movies. "They don't do it out of embassies - they're using the method of co-opting as many people as possible," said the senior fellow for national security affairs with the right-wing Heritage Foundation. "They're not like other major intelligence services, and gather information in bits and pieces - like trying to build a beach one grain of sand at a time. The information comes from all sorts of diverse sources."

He claimed Beijing's spymasters also recruited in overseas Chinese-American communities. Although the methods used were sometimes risky, they were clever because those being used for spying were in the US legitimately.

Mr Brookes determined the problem was the "biggest counter-intelligence threat to the US for the next 10 to 20 years", but other countries were also experiencing similar problems.

The mainland ran an espionage network against scientific laboratories and large research universities in several European countries, including Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany, and Canada might have up to 500 front companies, he said. Taiwan has been battling mainland spies for decades. Recently, it arrested 17 of its military officers for working for China.

The latest mainland arrest of an alleged spy involves a Hong Kong man. Journalist Ching Cheong, the China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, is under house arrest in Beijing and being investigated for allegedly accepting money for passing information to unidentified foreign agencies.

A Chinese researcher arrested last September, Zhao Yan , is also in custody accused by authorities of fraud and espionage for passing on sensitive information to The New York Times newspaper.

A former western intelligence officer with extensive knowledge of Chinese espionage methods said the mainland had many military and civilian spying agencies.

The methods differ sharply from how other countries spy on China. Principally, their activities are carried out through embassies and consulates, although some, such as the US and Australia, are believed to have intelligence officers on the ground. Like China, their espionage agencies are known to gather information from people in sensitive positions.

American intelligence analyst James Bamford said that was the main way that the US Central Intelligence Agency found out about issues of interest. People, often students, were approached to provide information or work as agents.

Beyond its borders, though, the US got most of its information through electronic surveillance, said Mr Bamford, the author of books on the organisation responsible for that area of intelligence-gathering, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, and The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America's Most Secret Agency.

"The US eavesdrops on China's satellites. A lot of that [is] being done from Japan, where it has a huge base for that purpose," he said. Spy planes were also used extensively, as was revealed in April 2001, when one collided with a mainland fighter jet off Hainan Island.

No one is suggesting that espionage is pulling China and the US and its allies towards war. But the noise is rising as each new spying case is uncovered. Nor has the tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats, academics and businessmen begun, as happened during the cold war between the US and the Soviet Union. If rivalry heightens, though, the doom merchants claim, that day may not be far away and the cold war freeze will return in earnest.

(The Age)  Envoys watch dissidents, probe students.  By Jason Dowling.  June 12, 2005.

Sensitive economic information is obtained by the Chinese consulate in Melbourne and Chinese students in the city are used as information sources, security experts say.  They warn that officials in the consulate also would be keeping a close eye on the activities of dissident groups based in Melbourne.

Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin, 37, who is seeking asylum in Australia, left his post at the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney two weeks ago and claimed there were up to 1000 Chinese spies in Australia.  He said his job was to monitor the activities of people involved in the Falun Gong movement, democracy advocates and people who support the separation of Tibet, Taiwan and East Turkestan from China.

Allan Behm, former Department of Defence head of strategy, said Chinese officials in Melbourne would be interested "in what is happening in the economic departments (of the State Government) . . . with regard to exports from Victoria . . . particularly to China".  This information gave China "an insight into future pricing and they may be able to do a better deal overseas or interstate", Mr Behm said.

Chinese students in Melbourne were being watched and used as sources of information, he said.  "Students are a big investment for China and they want to make sure they get their investment back," he said.  But Mr Behm said claims of 1000 spies operating in Australia were "frankly nonsense".

Melbourne-based asylum seeker Hoa Fengjun also said last week the Chinese Government was operating a "secret force" of Chinese spies in Australia.  Attorney-General Philip Ruddock recently confirmed that ASIO had been given additional funding to boost its counter-espionage capability.

Mr Behm said consulate officials in Melbourne were likely "monitoring" economic policy and groups of interests but there was no evidence to suggest they were spying.  Officials in many embassies around the world would be carrying out similar work, he said. "What they are doing is legally tapping into every source of information they can get and monitoring their own nationals to make sure they are not bringing terrible Victorian ideas back into China that will wreck the whole country," he said.

Australian security expert Neil Fergus, who recently was appointed to assist in a review of Australian airport criminal activity, said China had spies abroad like most other countries, but said talk of 1000 spies was "ridiculous - absolutely absurd".  "China does have and will continue to have military foreign intelligence requirements, but because of the nature of the country and its recent history it is not James Bond movie stuff," Mr Fergus said.  "They do have a responsibility to report on those people who are regarded as undermining the Chinese state, and the fact that you and I don't think the Falun Gong represents that threat is immaterial, it is what they think in Beijing."

Mr Fergus said it was the role of Chinese diplomats to report on the Chinese diaspora and anti-Chinese Government activities. "But do I think there is a big network of Chinese agents in Australia? There is not yet any evidence that has been brought forward by these two individuals or other people to validate that."  But Mr Fergus did agree with a recent Australian Government decision to increase funding for counter-espionage activities.  "It is important in terms of protecting sovereignty and Australia's international reputation to partners and trading partners (that) we don't have an environment which is open slather for foreign intelligence," he said.

(Sydney Morning Herald)  Spy left out in the cold.  By Tom Allard.  June 11, 2005.

From the mundane to the dramatic, from petty vandalism to high-tech eavesdropping and abductions, Chinese dissidents have a wealth of tales of Chinese harassment and surveillance.

It has always been assumed that China had an active spy network in Australia; every nation uses espionage and some intelligence officials are even formally revealed to foreign governments. But intelligence experts say the Chinese spy differently, relying heavily on informants in the Chinese diaspora. And what is emerging is a spy network far more extensive and more active than many thought. Just as damaging for China is new evidence of horrific and systematic abuses against dissidents back in their homeland.

Chen made the initial claims but, as he has gone back into hiding, Hao Fengjun, a member of China's state security bureau who sought asylum in February, has filled out the picture of a sophisticated and widespread network of intelligence gathering.

A member of the notorious "610" unit that prosecuted Falun Gong in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, he came to Australia with a file of highly sensitive information downloaded from his work computer. "It is not a question of 1000 spies in Australia, it is a network of informants, recruited and directed from outside the Chinese diplomatic missions in Australia. These persons report directly to the state security bureau in China," he says.

Along with Hao, another senior Chinese security official has sought asylum. But, unlike Chen and Hao, he has promptly been granted protection here.

But, like them, he has a "treasure trove" of information on Chinese espionage, says his lawyer, Bernard Collaery. The former ACT attorney-general, who is working for the Falun Gong, but is not a practitioner, says he has travelled to Asia to collect evidence of abuse. "There is astounding proof of [the 610 unit]," he told ABC's Lateline. "They've provided us with the order of battle. They provided us with evidence of the full connection all the way into Beijing, and they've provided us, indeed, with insights into the reporting of persons in Australia. It's very, very clear there is a highly sophisticated apparatus at work surveilling Chinese Australians, Chinese and Australians in this country."

China has long denied such allegations, including in the United Nations. Conceding the existence of the 610 unit would be a humiliating backdown for Beijing.

The claims of the Chinese defectors have not been tested but, equally, they could offer a cache of documents that would vastly outstrip anything provided by Vladimir Petrov and his wife, Evdokia, in 1954.

Yet the contrast between those Cold War times - when the prime minister, Robert Menzies, revved up a red-menace scare to win an election - and now could not be more stark. Either through indifference, incompetence or complicity, information on Chinese spying has been spurned as a network of espionage has flourished.

As well as direct information about abuses and spying, the three security officers could also have valuable insights into the tactical doctrine of Chinese spies, their targets and technology.

(ABC)  Chinese defector details spy claims.  June 20, 2005.

TONY JONES: Back now to our interview with the would-be Chinese defector, the diplomat Chen Yonglin. Given what he's saying about the activities of a Chinese network of agents and informers in this country, there's been a good deal of pressure on the Government to make sure that Mr Chen is protected against any action against him. We now understand he's been given the number of a policeman to call if he's threatened in any way, but he still says he's living in fear of being sent back to imprisonment or death, while the Immigration Department slowly processes his asylum claim. Tonight Mr Chen fleshes out in more detail his allegations about how the network operates and who are its key targets. I spoke to him in Sydney earlier today.

TONY JONES: Chen Yonglin, thank you for joining us.

CHEN YONGLIN: Hi. Yes, Tony.

TONY JONES: Can I ask you whether you've been interviewed yet by any Australian security agency or by the Australian Federal Police about the claims that you've made?

CHEN YONGLIN: Yes, the ASIO have contacted me, but I would prefer not to comment on.

TONY JONES: ASIO have - have you actually spoken to them, though, at this point, or have they just said, "We will speak to you in the future"?

CHEN YONGLIN: I would like to make no comment on that.

TONY JONES: OK. Were you able to give to any Australian authorities detailed information about the claims that you've made about a Chinese spying network or networks of agents operating in Australia?

CHEN YONGLIN: I prefer not to talk about this here.

TONY JONES: But it is a bit complicated, because we have tonight on our program run a story about harassment of Australian Chinese. Many of them have spoken to us. Many of them are from the Falun Gong movement. They've told us about being targeted, about being harassed, about house break-ins, about thefts, intimidating phone calls and claims of interference on their web sites. Do you know anything of those kind of activities happening in this country?

CHEN YONGLIN: I've heard of that, and when I look at the web site, they write some story on the web site about some harassment claim by the Chinese Government, but my role is Consul for Political Affairs. I haven't engaged in such cases, and my job in the consulate actually is to monitor the activities of pro-democracy activities, and Falun Gong practitioners while they have public assembly, and I sometimes take photo of them and they also can see I was there and they take photo of me, too.

TONY JONES: You never monitored the activities of individuals in your job?

CHEN YONGLIN: No, no, no.

TONY JONES: And did you report on the activities that you were photographing? Did you write reports back to the Chinese authorities?

CHEN YONGLIN: I report back the information - general information, like how many people attended at the public assembly, and who speak, the keynote speaker and what it's all about, and the general - general, yes.

TONY JONES: Can you confirm the existence of the 6-10 Office which the defecting policeman, Mr Hao, tells us that he worked for in China. Can you confirm, to your knowledge, the 6-10 Office exists in China?

CHEN YONGLIN: Yes, 6-10 Office was established in 1999 on June 10. That was established to control the Falun Gong organisation and, in my view, to persecute Falun Gong practitioners.

TONY JONES: To persecute them?


TONY JONES: Is it common knowledge among Chinese officials, diplomats, consular offices and so on that the 6-10 Office exists because the Chinese Government says it doesn't exist?

CHEN YONGLIN: It exist. Every diplomat working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs knows that existed, yes, 6-10.

TONY JONES: So how does the 6-10 Office gather information about individual Chinese people in Australia? Do you have any idea?

CHEN YONGLIN: The 6-10 - I believe that's because not only the consulate engaged in collecting information about Falun Gong activities. There are some other departments, I believe.

TONY JONES: What sort of departments are they?

CHEN YONGLIN: Including, I believe, some security people.

TONY JONES: So there are security people operating inside the embassy or external people?

CHEN YONGLIN: Outside the embassy.

TONY JONES: So they're infiltrated into Australian society, but they're members of the security operation, is that right? Or security apparatus?

CHEN YONGLIN: Yes, I'm not clear about how they do operate in Australia.

TONY JONES: But these are the people that you describe as spies and agents?

CHEN YONGLIN: That's the number I got from a document - the number of 1,000 - the secret agent and informant. Informants, yes.

TONY JONES: So you actually read a document which...


TONY JONES: ..when you were in the consulate...


TONY JONES: ..which sets out how many informants and agents there are in the country.


TONY JONES: Can I ask you to look at a document that we've been given. It is one of the documents that the defecting Chinese policeman, Mr Hao, brought with him to Australia. These were taken out of his computer, his police computer. Could you have a look at that and see whether you think that is a real document?

CHEN YONGLIN: Yeah, this document sounds like a real one, except no stamp. And I believe that - yeah, it sounds like a real one.

TONY JONES: Yeah. For the benefit of the audience, I should say I did show you this document earlier, but it names individuals and some of the other documents that we've seen also name individuals who have been targeted for surveillance in this country, including, in this case, a young Chinese student named Yan Yang. Now, it says she is a Falun Gong member who has been organising their activities inside NSW University, and she was quite shocked when she saw this document. Does it shock you that someone has followed her activities so closely in this country that it appears in a report in a police computer?

CHEN YONGLIN: It seems quite normal that some students and maybe Chinese nationals are maybe not - they have some close relation with the consulate or embassy. They may talk about what Falun Gong are carrying on, the activity.

TONY JONES: You mean that some other students may be telling the embassy or the consulate what their fellow students are doing, is that what you mean?

CHEN YONGLIN: Yes, that's possible.

TONY JONES: Let me ask you this from your knowledge of the 6-10 Office and its persecution of Falun Gong: If your name appeared in a document like this and you were a student in Australia, what would happen to you when you went back to China?

CHEN YONGLIN: Oh, you definitely would be monitored and under surveillance of the public security officers and will be strictly confined in the movement in China.

TONY JONES: Now, we understand that 250,000 Chinese citizens are actually held in forced labour or education through labour camps, as they are euphemistically called. That is the government's own figure, actually. Do you know - I mean, were you aware, as a Chinese official, of these labour camps and their use for suppressing dissidents?

CHEN YONGLIN: It's known to the world that a lot of pro-democracy activities were put in jail in China and also I know that I was told by senior official of 6-10 Office that there are about 60,000 practitioners in China and half of them are in prison and labour camps.

TONY JONES: You were told that yourself?

CHEN YONGLIN: I was told.


CHEN YONGLIN: By a senior official of 6-10 Office.

TONY JONES: Was that when you were in...

CHEN YONGLIN: I was working in the Chinese consulate and this senior official came to inspect our job about Falun Gong.

TONY JONES: They actually sent a senior member of 6-10 to make sure that you were doing a good job...


TONY JONES: ..monitoring Falun Gong's activities, is that right?

CHEN YONGLIN: Yeah, of course he said that the consulate came to know about implementing the government policy of the policy strategy, like fight eyeball to eyeball, should be more aggressive.

TONY JONES: So when was this, by the way?

CHEN YONGLIN: That was at the end of year 2003.

TONY JONES: So let me get this straight: You were told by a senior official of the 6-10 Office in Sydney that you should go eyeball to eyeball with Falun Gong members and be more aggressive in the way you approached your surveillance of them, is that right?


TONY JONES: Did you actually do that?

CHEN YONGLIN: No. That's why they are quite displeased.

TONY JONES: But that message would have gone to other members of the consulate, to other diplomats also in the embassy in Canberra as well. Do you know that it did?

CHEN YONGLIN: Yeah, yeah.

TONY JONES: So the message came from China: We need a crackdown in Australia of the Falun Gong members.

CHEN YONGLIN: Their idea is that it is overseas missions to blame that caused the problem in China. If there is no disturbance from overseas in China, the 6-10 Office can solve every problem in China, should finish the Falun Gong issue very quickly.

TONY JONES: So, in fact, what they're saying is the big problem for China comes from countries like Australia and Canada and the United States, where there are overseas Chinese working for Falun Gong?

CHEN YONGLIN: Overseas - the Falun Gong practitioners put pressure to the Government, the Chinese Government, and launch too many activities so that - and try to influence, mobilise their force, their influence in China.

TONY JONES: Mr Chen, I want to talk to you now about the very controversial claims that you made when you first went public that Chinese citizens have been kidnapped from this country by the Chinese security services. You appeared to be backing away from those claims when I saw you interviewed recently. Is that the case? I mean, do you want to now say that those claims were wrong?

CHEN YONGLIN: I didn't back off in any way, and I'm an honest man even in a state of fear. I'm a very honest man, a man of dignity.

TONY JONES: What caused you to make the claims that Chinese citizens were being kidnapped from Australia? Did you actually have evidence of that, or is this something that someone told you?

CHEN YONGLIN: I get it from a very reliable source.

TONY JONES: An official Chinese source? Or a source outside in the Australian community?

CHEN YONGLIN: I prefer not to talk about this.

TONY JONES: Are you trying to protect someone?

CHEN YONGLIN: No, just because it's not the proper time to get into all the details of it.

TONY JONES: Do you accept that it's very important for you to explain why you made these claims, because there are people trying to undermine those claims, to get to the bottom of them, to find out whether they're true or not true.

CHEN YONGLIN: To my sense, I talk about this case to draw the attention of the Australian Government. I believe the Australian Government has taken some necessary steps to prevent such a case from occurring in the future. That's the result I would like to see.

TONY JONES: Do you still believe, then, that Lan Meng was kidnapped?

CHEN YONGLIN: I prefer not to talk about that.

TONY JONES: Are you prepared to give whatever evidence you have to the Australian authorities?

CHEN YONGLIN: When it is time and necessary, I will do it.

TONY JONES: And when will it be time?

CHEN YONGLIN: At present time it seems not proper.

TONY JONES: OK. Can I ask you finally do you believe still, now, that you and your family are in any danger?

CHEN YONGLIN: Yes, I'm still worrying about my family and we haven't been assured about the security and at this stage we have a bridging visa with condition of no work and no Medicare, and I am still worrying about my future. And there is still, the possibility is there that may possibly be sending back to China.

TONY JONES: Looking at it from the outside that seems now a very remote possibility because of all the things that you've said against your own government. Wouldn't you agree that you now appear, to your government, to be a traitor?

CHEN YONGLIN: My walking out of the consulate is an action against the Chinese Communist Government. They won't tolerate any official who would take actions against the Communist Party.

TONY JONES: Tell me - I mean, we've talked about what happens to those people who oppose the system, the Falun Gong practitioners, dissidents, democracy activists and others in China. What would happen to a diplomat who has spoken out against his own government, who has effectively defected to another country, if he were forced to go back?

CHEN YONGLIN: For my case, some lawyers said that I may be sentenced to 15 years to prison or even the death penalty because of my case - very special.

TONY JONES: Chen Yonglin, we thank you very much for coming in tonight to talk to us in quite some detail tonight about your case and the claims that you are making. We thank you.

CHEN YONGLIN: My pleasure.