China is investigating a second citizen for “spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),” according to a release by the country’s state security ministry on Monday.
The 39-year-old Chinese national, surnamed Hao, was a cadre at a ministry and had gone to Japan for studies, which was where the spying recruitment occurred, the ministry said. Hao’s gender was not revealed.
The statement came less than two weeks after the ministry said it uncovered another national also suspected of spying for the CIA after being recruited in Italy.
The US embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while the US Embassy in Tokyo referred questions to the CIA, which was not immediately able to respond outside business hours.
The ministry said Hao had become acquainted with a US embassy official known as “Ted” while sorting out a visa application.
The official invited Hao for dinners, presented gifts and sought Hao’s help with writing a paper that Ted promised to pay for, the ministry said.
Ted introduced Hao to a colleague named Li Jun before his term at the embassy in Japan ended, the ministry said; Li and Hao then maintained a “cooperative relationship”.
Before Hao completed studying, Li revealed being a Tokyo-based CIA personnel and “instigated Hao into rebelling”, telling Hao to return to China to work for a “core and critical unit”.
Hao signed an espionage agreement, accepting assessment and training from the United States, according to the statement.
The ministry said Hao worked in a national department upon returning, “according to the requirements of the CIA”, and provided the CIA with intelligence while collecting US pay.
The investigations come amid tense relations between China and the United States due to a bitter technology and trade war.
The world’s two biggest economies have locked horns over a range of issues, including national security. Washington has accused Beijing of espionage and cyberattacks, charges China has rejected. China has also declared it is under threat from spies.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena