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The Spy Within: Larry Chin and China's Penetration of the CIA

Richard Desjardins
Richard Desjardins
Abstract :

For several years, US and Canadian intelligence agencies have reported aggressive Chinese intelligence activities taking place on the North American continent. According to these reports, China has focused heavily upon acquiring Western technology as part of its larger focus on economic development. If it is no longer surprising to hear about these efforts, we should remember that it was not always so. If China is fast becoming the new strategic adversary, the Soviet Union held that position for nearly fifty years.

When the story of Larry Chin was first reported in the press in the early-1980s, it shed light on a Chinese ‘import’ with which the public was not familiar: Chinese espionage in the West. It was only a decade earlier that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had been recognized by Canada (1970) and the United States as the legitimate government of China. In large part because of its conscious policy of turning inward, China was largely an unknown entity to the rest of the world. In fact, much knowledge about China was based upon sketchy reports from refugees.

Tod Hoffman has made an important contribution to a subject that remains shrouded in secrecy and rumours. If China has made significant progress in ‘opening a window’ on its military, the domain of intelligence remains largely closed. Mr. Hoffman is providing us with a limited but very much needed account of Chinese intelligence practices.

Earlier accounts of Chinese intelligence activities took the form of ‘spy stories.’ French journalists Roger Faligot and Rémi Kauffer provided such a narrative in their biography of Chinese spy chief Kang Sheng. Another biography of Kang Sheng appeared shortly thereafter, purportedly based upon privileged access to Chinese government documents, thus lending this account greater credibility. However, these books failed to extract a textbook version of Chinese intelligence practices. Those interested had to wait until 1994, when Nicholas Eftimiades, a former CIA analyst, published what remains the only manual providing a description of China’s intelligence structure, including a description of its various agencies and their functions.

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The Spy Within: Larry Chin and China's Penetration of the CIA

Date Deposited : 08 Apr 2015 10:49

Last Modified : 08 Apr 2015 10:49

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Volume 11, Number 1, - 2011

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