The Chinese Edward Snowden Has Arrived And His Name is Will
Edward Snowden is an interesting character, and his book is doing pretty well. Now it seems there is a Chinese Spy who is making waves. Let’s delve into this breaking story.
A Chinese operative who defected to Australia has provided an unverified but chilling glimpse into the life of an apparent spy who came in from the cold, the cold tech wars that is. It’s bigger to me than what Edward Snowden did, since the Chinese Government is a massive state-run actor in terms of campaigns.
New Job: State Police Propaganda Terrorist
A Chinese spy has risked his life to defect to Australia and is now offering a trove of unprecedented inside intelligence on how China conducts its interference operations abroad. China in recent years has ramped up its foreign policy strategy including of course territories it considers it owns like Hong Kong and Taiwan.
To my knowledge, the Age first broke this story.
The “Chinese Edward Snowden”, Wang Liqiang fears he will be killed if he goes back to China
China is not just concerned with internal affairs and the One Belt Raod and dominating the future of artificial intelligence. Wang “William” Liqiang is the first Chinese operative to reveal the identities of China’s senior military intelligence officers in Hong Kong, as well as providing details of how they fund and conduct political interference operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.
China’s Influence in Australia Has Reached Epic Proportions
Mr Wang has taken his material to Australia’s counter-espionage agency, ASIO, and is seeking political asylum. But what does this do to Chinese Australia relations and why did he choose this time to do it?
The Age is an Australian Newspaper and the story quickly developed globally. A sworn statement Mr Wang provided ASIO in October states: “I have personally been involved and participated in a series of espionage activities”. He faces certain detention and possible execution if he returns to China.
The saga of Will Liqiang I think is going to be incredible. Wang is apparently “at an undisclosed location in Sydney on a tourist visa and seeking urgent protection from the Australian government.”
In interviews with The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes, he has 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 organizations.
ASIO has repeatedly warned that the current threat of foreign interference is “unprecedented” and that the number of foreign intelligence officers currently operating in Australia is higher than it was during the Cold War.
China is Proliferating Propaganda & Infiltration Tactics at Scale
Countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many others are under increased scrutiny and diplomatic and trade intimidation from China.
In late November, 2019 former ASIO boss Duncan Lewis even said the Chinese government was seeking to “take over” Australia’s political system through its “insidious” foreign interference operations.
Will could change the world like how Snowden showed us how agencies like the NSA operate. Mr Wang said he was part of an intelligence operation hidden within a Hong Kong-listed company, China Innovation Investment Limited (CIIL), which infiltrated Hong Kong’s universities and media with pro-Chinese Communist Party operatives who could be activated to counter the democracy movement.
- He says he had personal involvement in an October 2015 operation to kidnap and abduct to the Chinese mainland a Hong Kong bookseller, Lee Bo, and played a role in a clandestine organisation that also directed bashings or cyber attacks on Hong Kong dissidents.
- His handlers in China issued him a fake South Korean passport to gain entry to Taiwan and help China’s efforts to systematically infiltrate its political system, including directing a “cyber army” and Taiwanese operatives to meddle in the 2018 municipal elections. Plans are underway to influence the 2020 presidential election – plans that partly motivated him to defect to Australia.
- Mr Wang claimed his cover in Hong Kong was as a businessman working for CIIL, which he described as a front company used by various Chinese intelligence agencies and Communist Party officials.
University Students Key to Infiltration Tactics
His allegations basically depict a highly sophisticated Chinese intelligence presence that sounds a bit like police state terrorists. In particular it shows how Chinese students could be weaponized against countries like the United States and Canada similar to how they were in Hong Kong and have been in Taiwan (as they approach their own elections).
Mr Wang claimed his organisation had “infiltrated into all universities, including student associations and other student groups and bodies.” He had responsibility for recruiting mainland students using scholarships, travel grants, alumni associations and an education foundation.
Not Just Election Meddling in the Cold Tech War
It places like Hong Kong and Taiwan, New China patriotism is a rather easy mechanism to leverage. As those independent states are turned back to the mainland, which might actually be good for them economically (in the case of Taiwan) if not good for their human rights and online freedoms.
“I influenced them with patriotism, guiding them to love the country, love the Party and our leaders, and fight back strongly against those independence and democracy activists in Hong Kong.” Mr Wang’s extraordinary allegations first appeared in Australian media outlets on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019.
Move over Snowden, your book is old news. Time to try to get to the facts in the fiction what this Chinese spy is saying. Either way obviously China’s military efforts include a wide array of cybersecurity, propaganda and infiltration tactics. It remains to be seen how much via apps like TikTok, American Colleges and Canadian Universities the same efforts are being made.
As for Taiwan and Hong Kong, obviously the dangers are very real. While the story feels very Australian, China’s economic, technological and cultural assault on the world is not limited to business as these revelations supposedly demonstrate.
According to the BBC, He reportedly gave a 17-page statement to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in October, detailing his work as well as the names of senior intelligence officials and how they run their operations.
In a joint investigation by @60Mins @theage and @smh, Wang “William” Leqiang details how Beijing covertly controls listed companies to fund intelligence operations, including the surveillance and profiling of dissidents… https://t.co/hIDTuawqzy
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) November 22, 2019
If you are China, how do you scrub this story from public record when so many Chinese students study abroad? China spy story real or fiction? After growing worries about his work, Mr Wang travelled to Australia where his wife was studying and living with their new born son.