Tags: CCP, China, espionage, Falun Gong, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
TORONTO—Long-time Parliament Hill reporter and author Mark Bourrie threw away a steady job reporting for Xinhua News Agency when it became painfully clear he was being used as a spy.
Now he is giving an inside look into the murky world of Chinese-state journalism with an article published Aug. 23 in Ottawa Magazine detailing his time with the Chinese regime’s leading state-controlled news agency.
“I knew when I worked for Xinhua that there would be that time when they would really try to compromise me. It became fairly obvious as the months went by,” he told The Epoch Times.
Bourrie took the job only after contacting CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) to find out if he should be worried about being used as a spy. CSIS never got back to him.
While Bourrie spent most of his time doing straight reporting, a few assignments were clearly intelligence work, done for the sole purpose of keeping the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) intelligence agency abreast of what the regime’s critics in Canada were up to.
As these questionable assignments added up, Bourrie felt the weight of compromising his journalistic integrity.
“There are times in life when you have to draw a line and say, ‘This is wrong.’ And to do it—to actually know that I could do it and not make excuses for continuing it—was cathartic,” he said.
There are times in life when you have to draw a line and say, ‘This is wrong.’
— Reporter Mark Bourrie
“It feels good to get away from them, to know I will never do business with these people again.”
He came to the job with noteworthy credentials. Bourrie is the author of several books, including a best seller, The Fog of War, published during his time with Xinhua. His work has been published in several of Canada’s most respected publications, has won several awards. Bourrie has also lectured at Carleton University.
The Chinese Embassy certainly saw him as a snag. Bourrie is a long-time member of the Parliament Hill Press Gallery, with a seat in the “Hotroom” located inside Parliament for journalists. Through him, Xinhua gained a physical presence inside Canada’s seat of power and the agency held a grand ribbon cutting to mark the occasion. Reporters chuckled when recalling the peculiar event held at the row of cubicles that included Bourrie’s desk.
He worked for Xinhua for around two years. Bourrie quit after he was asked to prepare a transcript of a press conference the Dalai Lama held with reporters in Ottawa last April. He was also asked to find out what the spiritual leader discussed in a private meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
After watching past reports on Chinese dissident activities on Parliament Hill disappear into the ether after he filed them, Bourrie knew it was likely to happen again. He asked his Xinhua bureau chief Dacheng Zhang what would be done with his work; he was told it was being sent to Beijing and wasn’t for publication.
That was the line for Bourrie. He gave his resignation and warned the Parliament Hill Press Gallery that Xinhua was engaged in espionage, using the special access granted to Parliament Hill accredited reporters—which includes off-the-record briefings—to collect info for the Chinese regime.
Covering Dissident Events
Bourrie is particularly concerned about how intelligence gathered on Chinese dissidents like Tibetan activists and Falun Gong adherents is being used.
“When they go to something like a two-day conference on Tibet and film everything and transcribe everything, that is not going to a special publication—that is going to Chinese intelligence,” he said.
Zhang, who is currently accompanying Harper on a trip to the Arctic, has denied Bourrie’s account. No one from Xinhua’s Ottawa office responded to calls from The Epoch Times.
On Parliament Hill, it’s become the norm to see Xinhua dispatch all of its freelancers and staff, namely a photographer, reporter, and videographer, to events like Tibetan protests or Parliamentary luncheons about dangers posed by the Chinese regime.
Bourrie refused requests from Xinhua to collect the names of all present at Falun Gong press conferences, but Lucy Zhou, a spokesperson for the group in Ottawa, said it isn’t unusual for other Xinhua staff, including Zhang, to collect names and take an unusual number of close-up pictures at protests.
“It is very threatening to the practitioners who are protesting,” she said.
“When practitioners go back to China they can be arrested right away because of this information that they collected. Sure we can say the freelance photographer was just doing their job, but because Xinhua was behind it, it was beyond the normal work journalists do,” she said.
Bourrie said he learned that when covering dissident events, he should focus on the local spokespeople who were already well-known to the regime and not risk the safety of others by including them in his reports.
Over time, he took delight in filing reports comprised largely of criticisms directed against the regime, devoid of the type of intelligence the regime was hoping to collect.
“It was covered, but they would get nothing out of it,” he said.
That never eased his conscience however, and his discomfort continued until the day he quit.
Now he hopes his fellow Parliament Hill reporters take the issue seriously and recognize Xinhua is compromising the integrity of the Parliament Hill Press Gallery and the special access its members have on Parliament Hill.
Bourrie said in some ways he is just as guilty as others who compromise their principles because of money or access that the regime grants. That access is critical to reporters for Canadian news agencies and academics whose work is based in China.
“I guess we are just going to keep doing this forever, until someone has an experience like me where you just can’t do it anymore,” he said.
An Ongoing Concern
With Chinese state news agencies expanding their presence around the world in an effort to increase the regime’s soft power, Bourrie knows he won’t be the last to raise concerns about Xinhua.
But anyone dealing with a Chinese news agency or government-owned company needs to be wary, he said.
“In the course of day-to-day things, that probably won’t matter much. But when China’s interests come up in any important way, the mask comes off and you see the repression,” he said.
He warned that the Canadian government should also be fully aware what it means to share the oil sands with Chinese state-owned companies like CNOOC, which has made a bid to take over Nexen.
Julie Carmichael, director of communications for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said she couldn’t comment on matters of national security, but “the government takes allegations of espionage and foreign-influenced activities very seriously.”
“All credible threats are investigated by the appropriate authorities,” she said.
Xinhua’s espionage activities have been documented since the agency’s inception.
Chinese defector Chen Yonglin, who held a senior diplomatic post for the regime in Australia, told The Epoch Times last year that Xinhua reporters are still tasked with espionage duties.
“They play the role of a spy because Xinhua is actually an outreach organ of the CCP’s intelligence agencies. The nature of their work means they must use all means to infiltrate and obtain intelligence,” he said.
It’s a fact repeated in a 2005 report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which gained insight into Xinhua’s operations through former staff.
RSF detailed Xinhua’s lead role controlling information in China, exercising authority over censorship and propaganda directly under the control of the Propaganda Department.
“Xinhua is de facto run by the Propaganda Department. The agency gets its editorial line from this organ of the CCP and sticks to it slavishly,” reads the report.
Xinhua also publishes some reports in English that are not translated, to give the impression it covers sensitive topics challenging for the regime. Reporters say such reports are an international public relations exercise.
As for Bourrie, he is using his extra time to edit his latest book, a collection of Canadian war correspondence called Fighting Words that will be out in a couple of weeks.
The loss of his $50,000 a year income from Xinhua is a “kick in the teeth” he said, but he’ll get by. His wife has work, and he still has his freelance gigs.
“That’s life I guess. Lots of people have it worse than me. It’s not like I’m totally down on my luck.”
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Tags: CCP, China, espionage
Summary: Chinese spies created a fake Facebook profile of U.S. Navy admiral James Stavridis, friended various NATO officials, and gained access to their personal data. The fake profile has since been taken down.
Late last year, senior British military officers, Defense Ministry officials, and other government officials were tricked into becoming Facebook friends with someone masquerading as United States Navy admiral James Stavridis. By doing so, they exposed their own personal information such as private e-mail addresses, phone numbers, pictures, the names of family members, and possibly even the details of their movements, to unknown spies.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, censorship, China, espionage, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents
A Xinhua News Agency blog by an employee calling himself “just one of the Party’s dogs,” has gone viral in Chinese cyberspace.
On the evening on Nov. 2, the entry column on Xinhua’s Renren.com blog was updated to: “It’s easy to lie once, yet it’s not easy to lie everyday, and what is more difficult is to lie to the whole world every day. I did it. Don’t ask me who I am, I am just one of the Party’s dogs.”
The frank admission has caused a storm in Chinese cyberspace. As soon as the blog appeared, it was copied and quoted everywhere, Sound of Hope (SOH) Radio reported.
One blogger wondered, “Isn’t this disclosing confidential information?”
“Sunkissed Fruit” said, “As far as I can remember, this is the first time Xinhua News is telling the truth.”
“Wind Wave Lake” said: “Though it’s an open secret, but coming from Xinhua is history-making. I wonder if the authorities will wet their pants.”
The post was quickly silenced and Xinhua’s entry on Renren taken down, SOH said.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) created Xinhua in the 1930s to spread its revolutionary propaganda. It is still run by the Chinese regime and has grown into a multimedia empire with offices throughout the world.
It’s not a secret that Xinhua is the CCP’s mouthpiece, and often shapes and fabricates news to fit the regime’s needs.
Mark Newham, a British freelance reporter, worked a year at Xinhua’s headquarters in Beijing in 2004. In his book “Limp Pigs and the Five-Ring Circus,” published this year, he depicts the experience, saying he considers Xinhua the center of the CCP’s propaganda machine.
Renowned Chinese economist He Qinglian told SOH that any official media in China, from the day it is born, serves only one purpose: to be the Party’s mouthpiece. It is supervised by the CCP, and the purpose of its reports is to lavish praise on the CCP’s work and policies.
Xinhua is also known to have links to China’s intelligence services, Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior intelligence official with CSIS told The Canadian Press. “Basically, it’s a cover. We’re not talking about just people collaborating with the intelligence services. We’re talking about people trained as intelligence officers to operate in foreign countries,” he said.
Related Articles: Former Chinese Diplomat: Xinhua Part of Spy Network
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, espionage, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents
Journalism is a vastly different concept in a country where free speech is fiercely quashed and propaganda the primary role of domestic newspapers and broadcasters.
In China, which ranks among the top jailers of journalists in the world, the main media outlets, including Xinhua News Agency, were created to serve the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in whatever capacity possible.
Ding Ke , a former reporter for Guangming Daily, a Chinese state-owned newspaper, revealed some of those capacities to the Epoch Times in 2005 when he shared his experience as a foreign correspondent stationed in Washington, D.C. Now living in the United States, Ke said his journalist moniker was a cover for his work as a spy.
“On one hand I was engaged in news reporting, on the other hand I collected information for the Ministry of State Security,” he said.
“We were required to contact different groups of people to ferret out useful information, especially among the nearly 30 million overseas Chinese people.”
Ding said that after graduating from Beijing Language Institute in the 1980s, he was assigned to the Central Investigation Agency (later named National Security Department) for a month’s training. Then he was sent to work at the Daily and to “prepare for intelligence gathering for the future.”
“At the time, we were asked to learn how to gather useful intelligence from the variety of people we came in contact with.”
Ding said that for intelligence gathering it was important to make friends with all kinds of people and establish long-term relationships, and when the conditions were right a steady stream of intelligence information would be easy to obtain.
Other spies worked as diplomats, economic analysts, or within cultural organizations, he said.
At one time, Xinhua was almost synonymous with the CCP in some parts of the world, and top Xinhua positions were held by high-ranking Party cadres.
Xu Jiatun was the head of Xinhua News Agency in Hong Kong from 1983 to 1990 and the secretary of the Hong Kong and Macao Work Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
Tags: CCP, China, espionage
A video of a Chinese general discussing his latest history of the Chinese Communist Party CCP was recently leaked onto Chinese video-sharing websites and became an instant sensation. Viewers were not drawn to the two hours plus in which the general regurgitated standard lines of official propaganda, but to the final, shocking 10 minutes—a candid discussion of eight senior CCP officials who spied for foreign intelligence services.
The video, which appears to have been professionally made, features Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan of China’s National Defense University speaking about his recently published “Miserable Glory.” According to employees of China Life, the speech was given at the insurer’s Beijing headquarters on March 17.
The speech took its unexpected turn as Gen. Jin commented on how “everybody wants to get rich first.”
He then discussed what he called “large-scale espionage” involving “degenerate Communist Party officials.” Jin noted that some of the espionage cases were treated as corruption cases so that the CCP could save face, and some, while previously reported elsewhere in the world, had never been publicly discussed in China before.
Tags: CCP, China, espionage, IT and Media
Chinese hackers compromised the computer networks of both the Canadian and the Australian governments last February. The attacks are part of a long-term effort by the Chinese regime to dominate other nations through compromising or disrupting their computer networks.
The cyber attacks in Australia were revealed on March 28. The private e-mails of the Australian prime minister are believed to have been hacked, and thousands of e-mails from at least 10 federal ministries were exfiltrated.
In Canada, hackers penetrated computers of the Finance, Defense, and Treasury departments.
The Chinese regime’s use of cyberattacks to gain information from foreign governments is nothing new. Chinese hackers are known to have hit the government network of India in January 2010, campaign e-mails of Obama and McCain in 2008, and the German government’s computers and the computers of the U.S. Defense Department in 2007.
Reports on the cyberattacks have often emphasized the theft of technology, but the taking of e-mails is part of an overall strategy used by the Chinese regime to gain advantage over other countries.
The value of exfiltrated e-mails “would be priceless,” according to Terry Minarcin, retired Air Force cryptographer for the National Security Agency.
“You would not only get personal e-mails, but also the government e-mails,” he said. The information may reveal moral flaws in individuals, and “you could exploit that to your advantage,” Minarcin said.
The Chinese regime’s intelligence agency conducts thorough research on foreign officials in order to coerce or blackmail them. They identify four weak points in human nature: fame, profit, lust, and anger, which they exploit through tailored approaches, a Beijing insider told New Epoch Magazine.
Tags: CCP, China, espionage
OTTAWA—A former Canadian spy says there’s no question that the cyber attackers who last month hacked into three key Canadian government departments in an effort to steal sensitive information were acting on behalf of a foreign regime.
“People are actually misled if they refer to it as a simple hacker attack,” says Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior intelligence officer and manager at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS.
“It is not hackers. It is cyber espionage.”
CBC reported Wednesday that hackers had compromised systems at Canada’s Treasury Board, Ministry of Finance, and the research arm of National Defence, and were first detected in January.
Following the attacks, the Internet had been shut down or severely restricted in the departments in an effort to contain the damage and prevent sensitive information from being leaked.
CBC reported that the attacks had originated in China, which is frequently the source of cyber attacks on foreign governments.
Tags: CCP, China, espionage, human rights, persecution of dissidents
In order to create a “Safe and Peaceful University” the Xi’an University of Technology, in Shanxi Province, turned one in ten students into informants.
The student informant and spy system is strong in China, according to recent documents and reports.
“Chinese educators and Communist Party officials are expanding the Student Informant System to a growing number of Chinese universities, colleges, vocational institutes, and lower level schools,” the CIA reported in Nov. 2010.
“Students designated as student-informant,” says the CIA, “engage in political spying on both professors and fellow students and denounce professors and students for politically subversive or unconventional views.”
Yang Shiqun, professor at the East China University of Politics and Law in Shanghai found himself under investigation in November 2008, when two students denounced him as “counter-revolutionary,” to the authorities. Yang had criticized the government in his Chinese classics class. The incident was widely discussed in print and online media.
Tags: CCP, China, espionage
LONDON—Generous giveaways at trade fairs, such as USBs and digital cameras, are being loaded with spyware by Chinese government hackers and used to harvest sensitive commercial secrets, Britain’s intelligence agency has warned.
These methods, along with bugging hotel rooms and staging elaborate ‘honey traps,’ mean that China poses “one of the most significant espionage threats to the U.K.,” a leaked report from MI5 states.
The report, seen by the Sunday Times newspaper, claimed that most of the efforts to steal company secrets came from the agents working within the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of Public Security.
“Any U.K. company might be at risk if it holds information which would benefit the Chinese,” the report says.
The 14-page “restricted” report, written by MI5’s Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure, claims that Chinese agents have attacked U.K. defense, energy, communications, and manufacturing companies.
Tags: CCP, China, espionage, persecution of dissidents
“In fact, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) does not represent China. The CCP has brought harm to China, including China’s great tradition and culture. Withdrawing from the CCP is a truly patriotic deed, and an effort to save China. Standing up against the CCP is the best way to show my loyalty to my country. My father has long recognized the CCP’s evilness and anxiously hoped that for the sake of Chinese people, justice, freedom, and future generations, I could step forward courageously.”
- Li Fengzhi, former Chinese spy who recently withdrawed from the CCP.
The whole article and speech: