Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Archival Rescue 61 ~ Chen defection

Defector talks to Herald, one thousand agents in Australia;

History shows defector has reason to fear the worst

By Tom Allard June 7, 2005 Sydney Morning Herald

As Chen Yonglin tells it, his pro-democracy views and hostility to China's communist regime date back to when he was just three years old.

It was during the Cultural Revolution, when cadres - the Red Guards - hounded supposed deviants from Mao Zedong's extreme interpretation of Marxism.

Chen Jinfu was one of millions who was "prosecuted to death", in the words of his son. "The death of my father has been a shadow over my head. I have always been thinking about this," Chen Yonglin told the Herald.

"When I entered the foreign affairs university I came in contact with Western democracy doctrines. I was thinking very much about the past and the future of China."

As he studied the work of Socrates and contemporary thinkers and models of democracies, he says he was profoundly affected by another notorious episode of Chinese brutality - the Tiananmen Square massacre. He says he was among the protesters before the carnage on June 4, 1989.

"Three of my friends, my classmates from the same group as me, were hurt …One was seriously injured with a bullet close to the heart."

The military crackdown devastated him, he says, but he decided to pursue his diplomatic career, eventually joining the foreign service in 1991.

Nonetheless, his pro-democracy views remained intact, if closely held, even as he rose through the ranks of the diplomatic corps. They moved him to quietly assist Chinese dissidents in Australia in his post as political counsellor in the consulate in Sydney, he says.

He did not regularly join meetings or take part in anti-Chinese Government plots, but it appears he was selective in reporting on them, his primary task at the consulate.

In his letter seeking asylum, he said he had particularly helped the Falun Gong, a group he described as a cult but also "socially vulnerable" and "innocent people". His successor, Gao Li, would uncover his work, he said.

The Chinese ambassador, Fu Ying, believes Mr Chen is more interested in jettisoning his diplomatic career for

the pleasant climes of Sydney, conveniently seeking asylum at the end of his four-year stint.

His wife had lost her job in China, Madame Fu said. His daughter spoke better English than Chinese.

Then there are Mr Chen's claims of a thousand Chinese agents in Australia and his assertion that the Chinese Government abducted its nationals overseas.

Warren Reed, a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer, has little doubt that Mr Chen is who he says he is - a diplomat charged with spying on dissidents who probably had access to very sensitive intelligence.

Mr Reed said there are perhaps only a couple of dozen full-time Chinese spies in Australia, but the Chinese intelligence network relies on many informants.

On the alleged abductions, an Australian intelligence insider said: "There are certainly cases where Chinese nationals have suddenly disappeared, right around the world."

Other experts were more sceptical about the abduction claim but broadly agreed that an awful fate awaited Mr Chen if he returned to China, despite Madame Fu's assurances.


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