Chinese ambassador ‘spy case’ would not be first, warns state-run newspaper

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Top Chinese diplomats, military officers and scholars have been drawn into spying in recent years, a state newspaper warned on Thursday, in an editorial on the rumours surrounding the country’s ambassador to Iceland.

The Global Times said several of the cases had gone unreported, adding: “If it is confirmed that Ma [Jisheng] has been caught, we hope that his story will one day appear on media to serve as a warning for others.”

Ma had been due to return from China to Reykjavik this March but did not do so. The foreign ministry refused to comment on reports by a US-based Chinese-language news site that he and his wife had been arrested for passing intelligence to Japan, with spokesman Hong Lei saying he had no information on the matter.

Hong, speaking on Wednesday, also refused to comment on Ma’s whereabouts and would not say who is China’s current ambassador to Iceland. Ma, who began his posting to Reykjavik in December 2012, has twice served in China’s embassy in Tokyo.

Citing foreign media reports of Ma’s detention, the Chinese editorial said: “In recent years we have frequently witnessed vicious incidents where top Chinese diplomats, military officers and senior research fellows of thinktanks have been involved in espionage and selling intelligence. If Ma is confirmed to be involved in this case, that will be startling news.

“A number of major cases that startled the Chinese elite were not released to the public through the media. In actuality, reporting such incidents will educate many people by letting them know how close those manipulators of overseas intelligence agencies are to us.”

The editorial said perpetrators had “developed distorted values and indulged themselves, hankering after cash and a life of luxury, so they were easily targeted by foreign intelligence services”. It added that China had suffered more losses of intelligence in recent years, but that those responsible were increasingly likely to be caught given advances in technology.

The piece appeared on both the English and Chinese language websites of the Global Times newspaper, which is state-run but does not represent the official voice of the party.

In a separate development a former US military contractor in Hawaii was sentenced to more than seven years in prison on Wednesday for passing on national defence secrets to a Chinese national and illegally keeping classified documents at his home, Reuters reported.

Benjamin Pierce Bishop, a retired army lieutenant colonel assigned to the US Pacific Command on Oahu, had top..

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