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Former spy alleges global Chinese spy network hunts and abducts dissidents

SYDNEY — An investigation by Australia’s public broadcaster accuses China’s secret police service of tracking down dissidents living overseas.

A former Chinese spy now living in Australia told Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Four Corners program that a unit of the Chinese secret service had been operational in Sydney as recently as last year.

The spy – named only as “Eric” – has described a shadowy world of deception and abduction.  The former Chinese agent told ABC how he’d been ordered by the secret police in Beijing to target dissidents overseas, including in India, Thailand, Canada and Australia.

‘Eric’ said he would gain their confidence and lure them to countries where they could be kidnapped and sent back to China.  

He told journalists from the investigative Four Corners program that he fled last year to Australia.  

Australia’s domestic spy agency has not confirmed any of the details of the alleged Chinese spy ring.

‘Eric’ said he worked as an undercover agent for a unit within China’s federal police and security agency, the Ministry of Public Security, between 2008 and early 2023.

The specialist division is called the Political Security Protection Bureau, or the 1st Bureau, and targets so-called enemies of the Chinese state.  It is alleged to have been working in Sydney as recently as last year.

‘Eric’ told the ABC that he was speaking out to expose the truth.

“I believe the public has a right to know the secret world.  I worked for the Chinese Political Security Department for 15 years,” he said.  “Today, it is still the darkest department of the Chinese government.”

The ABC said is the first time anyone from China’s secret police has ever spoken publicly. It is using a pseudonym to protect his identity.

Peter Mattis is a China analyst at the Jamestown Foundation, a U.S-based conservative defense policy research organization.  He told the ABC’s Four Corners program that Beijing wants to curb dissent among the Chinese diaspora.

“The Political Protection Bureau has also had a role in trying to silence dissidents as well as to map dissident networks.”

The ABC has said that it has seen hundreds of secret documents and correspondence that back up ‘Eric’s’ allegations.

The broadcaster has reported that Chinese authorities have used anti-corruption campaigns to return more than 12,000 alleged fugitives to China in the past decade.

Chinese authorities have not yet commented on the allegations made in the Australian documentary.

There has also been no response from ASIO, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization to the claims.