EXCLUSIVE: Chinese spymaster complains about news leak

EXCLUSIVE: Chinese spymaster complains about news leak
EXCLUSIVE: Chinese spymaster complains about news leak 

By Bill Gertz 
October 8, 2009

China's most senior military intelligence official, a veteran of spy 
operations in Europe and cyberspace, recently made a secret visit to the 
United States and complained to the Pentagon about the press leak on the 
Chinese submarine that secretly shadowed the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft 
carrier in 2006.

Maj. Gen. Yang Hui said senior Chinese leaders suspected the Pentagon 
deliberately disclosed the encounter as part of a U.S. effort to send a 
political message of displeasure to China's military. The Song-class 
submarine surfaced undetected near the carrier, and Gen. Yang said the 
Chinese believed the leak was timed to coincide with the visit of a 
senior U.S. admiral.

Gen. Yang made the remarks during a military exchange visit in early 
September, according to two defense officials. The officials discussed 
the talks on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to 
discuss the contents of the private meetings.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman confirmed that Gen. Yang was hosted by 
Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr. but 
declined to provide details of the discussions. The visit included 
meetings at the DIA, Pentagon and State Department and within the 
intelligence community, he said, noting that Gen. Yang invited Gen. 
Burgess to visit China.

The U.S. visit by the senior spymaster was unusual. The Chinese service 
has been linked to two spy rings that operated against the United 
States, including the case of California defense contractor Chi Mak, who 
was sentenced to 24 years in prison last year for supplying China with 
military technology.

Chinese military intelligence also was behind the cases of two Pentagon 
officials recently convicted of spying. James W. Fondren Jr., a Pacific 
Command official, was convicted of espionage Sept. 25 for his role in 
supplying secrets as part of a spy ring directed by Tai Shen Kuo, a 
Taiwanese-born naturalized U.S. citizen who court papers said was an 
agent for Beijing. The second Pentagon official linked to the ring was 
Gregg Bergersen of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, 
who was convicted along with Kuo last year for supplying defense 
technology for China's military.

Both that spy ring and the Chi Mak case were linked through a Chinese 
official in Guangzhou, identified in court papers as Pu Pei-liang, who 
worked as a researcher at the Chinese-military-funded Center for Asia 
Pacific Studies and received the defense secrets from the spies.

According to defense officials, Gen. Yang is an experienced clandestine 
operative who speaks English fluently and worked undercover in Europe.

Gen. Yang told U.S. officials during meetings that Chinese leaders were 
so angered by the disclosure of the Chinese submarine maneuver that they 
considered canceling the visit at the time by Adm. Gary Roughead, 
then-Pacific Fleet commander who has since been promoted to chief of 
naval operations.

The disclosure first appeared in The Washington Times and embarrassed 
Navy officials, who had to explain how defenses were breached against 
one of the military's most important power projection capabilities.

Gen. Yang brought up the incident during talks in Washington and said 
his intelligence service, known in U.S. intelligence circles as 2PLA, 
carried out an investigation. He said the service informed senior 
Chinese communist leaders that they had determined that the press 
disclosure was not an officially sanctioned leak.

The Chinese Song-class diesel submarine surfaced near the Kitty Hawk on 
Oct. 26, 2006, and was spotted by one of the ship's aircraft.

Current and former U.S. officials said Chinese intelligence cooperation, 
the reason for Gen. Yang's visit, has been mixed, focusing mainly on 
large numbers of Chinese reports on Muslim Uighurs in western Xinjiang 
province. Some of them are linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, but 
many are dissident Chinese Muslims seeking independence from communist 

Former State Department China affairs specialist John J. Tkacik Jr. said 
Gen. Yang is an expert in cyberwarfare and once headed the PLA's 
electronic intelligence section.

"His success as a cyberwarrior led to his promotion from senior colonel 
to major general and chief of the PLA's prestigious Second Department, 
which is not only responsible for military human intelligence 
collection, but also collates and analyzes all-source intelligence for 
the PLA," Mr. Tkacik said.

"I have no doubt that he has been directing the Chinese military's vast, 
industrial-vacuum-cleaner cyber-intelligence campaign that has 
penetrated not just U.S. military computer systems, but just about every 
U.S. business, university and research institute's computer systems as 

Mr. Tkacik said it is not clear why the Pentagon is seeking to increase 
transparency with Gen. Yang and his intelligence collectors. "They 
certainly aren't going to reciprocate," he said.


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