China: Man claiming to be spy is fraudster and fugitive, Latest World News - The New Paper

China: Man claiming to be spy is fraudster and fugitive

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'Spy' who defected to Australia claims he was personally involved in Chinese intelligence operations

BEIJING China sought on Saturday to discredit a man identified as a Chinese spy who defected to Australia with a trove of intelligence on Beijing's political interference operations in Hong Kong and overseas.

China accused him of being an unemployed fraudster and fugitive.

The Shanghai police statement came hours after a bombshell Australian media report recounting how Mr Wang Liqiang had given Canberra's counter-espionage agency the identities of China's senior military intelligence officers in Hong Kong.

He also provided details of how they funded and conducted operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia, according to the report, published in Australia's Nine network newspapers, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Wang said he was personally involved in infiltration and disruption operations in all three territories. His allegations come as Hong Kong is rocked by months-long pro-democracy protests.

He has also "revealed in granular detail" how Beijing covertly controls listed companies to fund intelligence operations, including the surveillance and profiling of dissidents and the co-opting of media organisations, the report stated.

Mr Wang is currently living in Sydney with his wife and infant son on a tourist visa and has requested political asylum, it said.

But in the first comments by Chinese authorities, Shanghai police painted a different picture of the 26-year-old man.

Mr Wang was found guilty of automobile import fraud in 2016 and given a suspended 15-month prison sentence by a court in east China's Fujian province, the police said on an official social media account.

The case involved Mr Wang defrauding 4.6 million yuan (S$892,000) from a business partner, according to a court document.

"According to the verification of the public security organ, Wang Liqiang, the so-called 'Chinese agent' reported by foreign media... is unemployed and is a fugitive," the police statement said.


His Chinese passport and Hong Kong resident document were "forged", police said, adding that authorities were "further investigating the case".

Mr Wang claimed in an interview on Nine's TV news program 60 Minutes that he would be executed if he returned to China.

"Once I go back, I will be dead," a youthful and bespectacled Mr Wang said through a translator in a clip from 60 Minutes shown on Saturday.

According to the news organisation, Mr Wang gave a sworn statement to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in October saying: "I have personally been involved and participated in a series of espionage activities".

This allegedly included infiltrating Taiwan under an assumed identity and with a South Korean passport to run local operatives in efforts to meddle in the 2018 municipal elections and presidential polls due next year.

He also claimed to have coordinated a "cyber army" to shift political opinion.

This was similar to Russia's interference in the 2016 United States election.

In Hong Kong, Mr Wang said he was part of an intelligence operation hidden within a listed company which infiltrated the city's universities and media to counter the pro-democracy movement. - AFP