International

Chinese spy defected to Australia with trove of intelligence: report

Workers walk past a building listed as the address of China Innovation Investment Limited in Hong Kong on November 23, 2019. A Chinese defector revealed he was part of the Hong Kong-based investment firm, which was a front for the Chinese government to conduct political and economic espionage in Hong Kong, including infiltrating universities and directing bashings and cyber attacks against dissidents.

Workers walk past a building listed as the address of China Innovation Investment Limited in Hong Kong on November 23, 2019. A Chinese defector revealed he was part of the Hong Kong-based investment firm, which was a front for the Chinese government to conduct political and economic espionage in Hong Kong, including infiltrating universities and directing bashings and cyber attacks against dissidents.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Wang “William” Liqiang confessed to conducting espionage operations in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

A Chinese spy has defected to Australia with a trove of intelligence on China’s political interference operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere, according to a media report on Saturday.

The Nine network newspapers said the defector, named as Wang “William” Liqiang, had given Australia’s counter-espionage agency the identities of China’s senior military intelligence officers in Hong Kong and provided details of how they funded and conducted operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia. Mr. Wang said he was personally involved in infiltration and disruption operations in all three territories, according to the report, published in Nine’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers.

Mr. Wang “revealed in granular detail” how Beijing covertly controls listed companies to fund intelligence operations, including the surveillance and profiling of dissidents and the co-opting of media organisations, the report stated. Mr. Wang is currently living in Sydney with his wife and infant son on a tourist visa and has requested political asylum, it said. Mr. Wang said in an interview to be aired Sunday night on Nine’s TV news programme 60 Minutes that he would be executed if he returned to China.

According to the news organisation, Mr. Wang gave a sworn statement to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in October saying: “I have personally been involved and participated in a series of espionage activities”.

This allegedly included infiltrating Taiwan under an assumed identity and with a South Korean passport to run local operatives in efforts to meddle in 2018 municipal elections and presidential polls due next year. He said the operation used local media executives to influence the election campaigns and defeat candidates seen as hostile to Beijing.

It was his fear of being discovered by Taiwan’s counter-espionage authorities working to influence next year’s elections that led Mr. Wang to seek asylum in Australia, he reportedly said.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 8:22:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/chinese-spy-defected-to-australia-with-trove-of-intelligence-report/article30063363.ece

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