Is “I,000 Chinese spies in Australia” as nutty as it sounds?

Not according to this article. It sounds quite possible indeed.

[Link and the photo of Chen Yonglin below via a site I normally wouldn’t hang out at. although this is an interesting post with good comments.]

chen yonglin.jpg

Oh, and if the name Chen Yonglin sets the Cybernanny in motion, please let me know.

Update: More good stuff on this topic over at THM.

The Discussion: 23 Comments

Gordon’s got a good post on this:

June 6, 2005 @ 2:24 pm | Comment

Thanks Laowai; I’ll add the link to the body of the post.

June 6, 2005 @ 2:30 pm | Comment

Hey Peking Duck,

I am a reader of your blog and though we don’t see eye to eye on US politics, I love your China commentary. Has Simon World commented on this yet? It is right in his neighborhood.

June 6, 2005 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

I don’t think Simon got around to this story yet, but I’m sure he will. Thanks for the link and photo, and I’m glad you read my site – I get a very interesting mix of readers, from quite conservative to bleeding heart. That’s what makes it fun.

June 6, 2005 @ 2:45 pm | Comment

Ever wondered what a dead man looks like?

Chen Yonglin, a mid-level Chinese diplomat recently attempted to defect to Australia. He has been denied asylum. Apparently he wasn’t even allowed to speak to anyone of importance within the Australian government, in addition the claim was rejec…

June 6, 2005 @ 2:59 pm | Comment

in the article at “”,
i have learned a word “GuanXi”, i always tried hard to explain the exact meaning of it, amazing to find that is so easy and simple.

June 6, 2005 @ 10:05 pm | Comment

Like the GOP article says, diplomats generally have a good life. If we put Chinese diplomats in the top 15% in society?, 10%, 5%? If a Chinese diplomat wants to flee China, what the hell does that say about the plight of the other 85, 90, 95% of people in China’s society?

June 7, 2005 @ 6:29 am | Comment


Do you think the Aussies will allow him to go to the US?

June 7, 2005 @ 7:37 am | Comment

>>Like the GOP article says, diplomats generally have a good life. If we put Chinese diplomats in the top 15% in society?, 10%, 5%? If a Chinese diplomat wants to flee China, what the hell does that say about the plight of the other 85, 90, 95% of people in China’s society?

Actually, I bet far fewer than you might guess share his feelings. One sign of the times: the percentage of Chinese students studying abroad who fail to return to China has been dropping for at least several years now.

June 7, 2005 @ 7:50 am | Comment


The article you cited to support 1000 spies claim is not about Australia specificlly. Basically, it doesn’t support that there are over 1000 Chinese spies in Australia, it just says that there are more and more Chinese to steal technology from westerns. I hope somehow you can clarify that.

This kind of reports floats more often these days. And Chinese students abroad are occasionally become targets of such libels. Is this just a kind of xenophobia?


June 7, 2005 @ 8:31 am | Comment

Gordon, I would think the answer has to be Yes. Otherwise they’d look very, very cruel.

Luke, read carefully:

To achieve this, China has dispatched a new generation of spies across the world to plunder the best of what the West has to offer.

In Australia, as elsewhere in the West, the term “Chinese takeaway” now has more sinister connections. Senior government sources tell The Australian that the number of Chinese agents in Australia has increased sharply during the past decade.

What this told me, and the blogger I got it from, is that China has way more spies in Australia than we would be led to believe. It doesn’t cite a specific number, but after reading it the estimate of 1,000 becomes far, far more plausible. For further amplification, you’ll certainly want to read this new article.

June 7, 2005 @ 10:06 am | Comment


It looks “Senior government official” can say anything. When Chinese ambassador denies Chen’s story, at least you know her name.

There was a similar incident last month, a “senior norway security official” tells press that many Chinese student there are government spies to take way their state secrets. It turned out later it just a rumor coming out from a rival research institute.

All told, if this guy really knows so many spies in Australia, why they are not interested in him and tries to send him out?

June 7, 2005 @ 11:42 am | Comment


The country that I mentioned in the last post should be Swedish. There are a lots of discussion about this incidence in Internet, for example,

However, No body seems to care about the truth and only interested in gossips (or the gossips they want to believe):


June 7, 2005 @ 11:54 am | Comment

I think we need to clarify the definition of “spy” here. It’s not a Jennifer Garner in Alias type, or a James Bond type, or even a Get Smart type.

A spy is basically someone who takes information from one country and gives it to another. In the corporate world, this would be like someone working for microsoft and slipping Apple a page of code from MS new suite program or something. This is not defined spying in the corporate world, it’s termed “breach of contract” because you always sign something saying you won’t do it.

From this point of view, just about anyone working in high tech could have engaged in a bit of “technology transfer.” Also, because China doesn’t really recognise patents very well yet (I recall Ford recently suing a Chinese car company because they’d copied the car chassis EXACTLY for their prototype) they can get away with this sort of thing in the corporate world as well as between governments.

It is extremely frustrating to see hard earned advances slip over to a country that has yet to really get its innovation going. China is a pirate. I very much want China to start innovating more and more, and using previously invented technology fairly, in accordance with the WTO. This is from the corporate side.

From the Governmental side, I must say Gordon’s post makes me uncomfortable. It’s the sort of nationalistic impulse that I’m not comfortable with. If the U.S. government came to me and said – Japan/China/UK/South Korea has technology that we need – when you are working there – bring it back for us! the power of the United States depends on you! I would probably say – ‘screw you’ – and tell them to renovate the education system. It’s the sort of us vs. them attitude that I don’t like.

June 7, 2005 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

laowai, haven’t you read the china dream by Studwell? You would love I think. I’m in auto parts here in china and the chinese auto makers and auto part makers have robbed the western and japanese companies blind. In china, there are no scruples, no morals, no partnership, no fairness: only money. The chinese firms that I have had dealings with will lie, steal, cheat and basically do anything to make more money. Don’t envy china, pray for it.

June 8, 2005 @ 5:33 am | Comment

John – your post is going up as my next post on my site. I’m incensed.

June 8, 2005 @ 2:38 pm | Comment

I did PR for a Beijing auto company and couldn’t believe what I saw. It was a joint venture with a Western company, and the hoops they made the Westerners jump through were totally insane. They got raped, and they were the ones making it all possible, helping the Chinese get rich. As we say so often, “Only in China.”

June 8, 2005 @ 2:50 pm | Comment

What would spies be spying on in Australia? With the exception of Kangaroos and those cute little Koala bears, what is there? What social or electronic technology do they have that the Americans or the Chinese don’t already have.
The processed food from Australia that I buy here in China is a long way from even being second best to anything American. However, the new concert center in my city looks like a cheap Chinese copy of the Sydney Opera Hall.

June 8, 2005 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

Australia is cheaper than the states. So you can afford to send 300 spies to england and 500 to the States, you can afford to send 1000 to Australia. ๐Ÿ™‚

June 9, 2005 @ 3:15 am | Comment

To anonymous’s question about what there is to spy on in Australia. Firstly, many of the spies are there to watch Chinese, not watch Australians.

More importantly … and no one seems to have mentioned this. Australia leaks secrets like the post-iceberg Titanic. It’s the soft-underbelly of American intelligence. As a close and trusted ally of the US, they are privileged with as much information as the Americans share with anyone … and it’s a hell of a lot easier to steal it from the Aussies than it is direct from the Americans.

June 9, 2005 @ 8:20 am | Comment


There are spys of all nationalities in Australia, and everywhere around the World. There are US spies in Australia, Indian Spies in Australia etc etc…but when anything has to do with China, people get all upset over it. Why? Because some are racists who don’t like the Chinese race and their culture? Because some are afraid of the economic and military potentials of the current Chinese Government? Or is it that the World always has to find an arbitary enemry…which was the USSR in the past….but now, this is turning towards China?

Also, please stop criticising China here, every country has their goods and bads, stop focussing on the bad things and look for the good things in China. Also, stop getting all happy about the good things of say US and ignoring the bad things.

With the comment about even “diplomats of China want to leave China and what does that say about China”, many people in China is proud of their culture and are happy with their life. It’s not like all Americans are happy with America, so don’t jump to conclusions.

Lastly, the FaLong Gong movement is always stirring up sh*t on China and other countries around the world, i don’t think they are just an exercise. Maybe you guys might want to check them out instead of bagging China all the time.


June 12, 2005 @ 8:27 am | Comment

Alison, there’s no doubt they stir up shit. That doesn’t mean they should be arrested, tortured and killed.

We love China or we wouldn’t be here. It’s its government we can’t stand. And if you know this blog (it’s obvious you don’t) you’d know I hit on the Buish administration with equal outrage.

June 12, 2005 @ 9:24 am | Comment

The propaganda cuts both ways. I’d be skeptical about this new Red Menace. Falun Gong has sustained its own powerful media offensive against China. It runs the Epoch Times and NTDTV. Didn’t someone from NTDTV supported the claims of “1000 Chinese spies” and accused Chinese spies of sending them envelopes containing white boric owder? This is so insulting to the real Chinese agents. It is also insulting to the Aussie spooks to assume that they are completely clueless about the truth of this matter. Strange isn’t it, that a defector should stage a sensational public brouhaha rather than be whisked away and quietly debriefed.

Remember the WMD hype when you read another hysterical account of Crouching Spy, Hidden Dragon armed with Sun Tzu to plunder the West.

July 6, 2005 @ 9:36 am | Comment

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