Chinese Diplomat Suspected of Espionage

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    A Chinese diplomat Li Chunguang (李春光) has been sent home after Japanese authorities began to ask questions about his activities in Japan:

    Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department believes that the diplomat, whose was first secretary of the embassy, was improperly approaching “key figures in Japan’s political and business circles since he was given the post in charge of economic issues at the embassy” in summer 2007, the news service reported.

    The Japanese-speaking diplomat worked for an intelligence unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army, the report said.

    In mid-May, police requested through Japan’s Foreign Ministry that the diplomat turn himself in for questioning. But the Chinese Embassy rejected the request and the diplomat returned to China.

    Here is some more information on the police investigation of the alleged spy, from the Yomiuri:

    After obtaining information that the diplomat was from the PLA General Staff, the police, including investigators of the MPD Public Security Bureau, secretly monitored his activities after his arrival in July 2007.

    The police discovered the diplomat tried to renew his alien registration card by fraudulently identifying himself in summer 2009 and investigated the fact that he used more than one identity.

    The police also found the diplomat made contact with a large number of politicians and businesspeople.

    Russian spies tend to gather information aggressively, using both favors and intimidation. But Chinese spies are generally thought to obtain information illegally only after developing personal relations while hiding their true intentions. They are also believed to use their contacts to benefit their country after developing a relationship, according to the police.

    Agents who disguise themselves as diplomats, in particular, are expected to obtain highly confidential information or exploit key figures and manipulate them.

    The article notes that Li was an international intern at the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management in 1999, where he “studied with Japanese would-be politicians, one of whom later became a Democratic Party of Japan Diet member.” The article might be referring to Seiji Maehara, claims that he does not recall having ever met Li.

    Another Yomiuri article reports that Li was also active in a plan to export Japanese agricultural products via a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Apparently, some people are wondering why Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture Nobutaka Tsutsui was deeply involved in that project. Li apparently visited Tsutsui’s office on several occasions to discuss business.

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