China’s top spy agency said on Sunday a Chinese citizen who worked for a defense institute had been accused of spying for the United States and his case had been transferred to a court in the southwestern city of Chengdu for trial.
The case is the latest to underscore Beijing’s heightened commitment to national security, its expanded anti-spying laws and crackdown on domestic corruption.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said in a television report that a man surnamed Hou who worked at an undisclosed defense institute was sent in 2013 as a visiting scholar to a U.S. university, where he was coerced into revealing Chinese state secrets.
China’s Ministry of State Security released a statement with the report on its WeChat social media account on Sunday, saying “espionage activities go hand in hand with deception, temptation, and conspiracy.”
The university was not named in the statement or media report.
CCTV said a U.S. professor close to Hou introduced him to someone who claimed to be an employee of a consulting company, but was actually an American “intelligence officer” using the company as his cover, CCTV said.
In the ensuing months as they became more friendly, the intelligence officer approached Hou to become a consulting expert at “his company”, promising him a payment of $600-$700 each time for the quality of his service.
A few months later, while Hou’s wife and son were visiting the U.S., the American revealed his true intentions and proposed a change in the way they cooperated. Hou, fearing for his wife’s and son’s safety, agreed to the terms, according to CCTV.
Under the arrangement, over many meetings, Hou would be asked to disclose highly classified secrets in hour-long sessions and would get $1,000 as compensation, the report said.
The cooperation continued after Hou returned to China in 2014. He would meet with U.S. intelligence while attending international conferences, CCTV said. He also provided intelligence information in the field of national defense and the military industry on his own initiative, the report said.
After investigations by the Chinese government, Hou was detained in July 2021 and charged on suspicion of espionage.
In recent years, China has arrested and detained dozens of Chinese and foreign nationals on suspicion of espionage, raising the concerns of the U.S. over its counter-espionage push.
Recently, China’s spy agency published new details about a U.S. citizen jailed for life for espionage earlier this year.