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Dong Jingwei – top Spy on the loose?

Dong Jingwei, ehemaliger Chef der Spionageabwehr Chinas

A rumor that sounds like it was started by… Donald Trump and his followers started it: the coronavirus may not have come about naturally, but at the Institute of Virology in Wuhan. But this time, it is not Trump who is voicing this suspicion, but his successor Joe Biden. Biden is actually said to check the facts first before he dares to go public with an issue. But now, he has ordered his intelligence agencies to make “every effort to investigate the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.” And he no longer rules out the laboratory theory.

The US government has not officially named the source. But rumors are growing that the main informant is none other than Dong Jingwei (董经纬), the former chief of counterintelligence and – should he still be in office – vice minister of the powerful Ministry of State Security (MSS), also known and feared in China itself as Guoanbu. According to the U.S. news portal Daily Beast, the top spy is said to have already fled with his daughter via Hong Kong to the USA and provided authorities with relevant information, including about China’s biological weapons program. It would be the highest-ranking Chinese defector to the US So far, these are just rumors. But if they turn out to be true, it would be a bombshell. Officially, the US government denies such a defection (China.Table reported).

Born in Zhao County, Hebei Province, near Beijing, Dong Jingwei headed the State Security Department of Hebei Province until 2017. He probably would not have risen to national prominence had he not been one of the masterminds behind the 2010 arrest of four Japanese business people for allegedly recording footage of a military facility. The arrest explicitly targeted the then state and party leader Hu Jintao, whom hardliners within the Chinese Communist Party accused of being too lax in dealing with foreign business people. Hu’s harshest internal critics included Xi Jinping, then still vice party chief.

After Xi ascended to state and party leader, Dong Jingwei’s rise in the security apparatus was unstoppable. In 2018, Dong Jingwei was appointed vice-chief of state security. He also personally became one of Xi Jinping’s closest advisors, and the information he may have provided to the US could accordingly have it all. In addition to early studies of the coronavirus and various scenarios of its spread, he is also said to have revealed which government institutions and organizations were involved. He also allegedly shared the identities of Chinese agents with the US.

Dong Jingwei allegedly also topic at top meeting

The fact that Dong Jingwei and his daughter fled to the US is also confirmed by Han Lianchao, a former employee of the Chinese Foreign Ministry who fled to the US after the suppression of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989. According to Han, Dong Jingwei’s flight was also a topic of discussion at the meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Alaska in March, adding to the sour mood. Wang had demanded that Dong be returned to China – which Blinken rejected.

However, what clouds the credibility of these reports is that in the US, it is mainly conservative and Trump-friendly media that pick up on the rumors and use them as an opportunity to criticize the Biden administration. For Biden had long not wanted to know anything about the Labor theory.

In China itself, Dong Jingwei is mentioned in the Chinese state media only in connection with a seminar at which he urged other intelligence officers to “step up all efforts to hunt down foreign agents and insiders working with ‘anti-Chinese’ forces.” When doubts arise about the whereabouts or health of a cadre, China sometimes responds by publishing recent pictures of the person in state media – a denial with Chinese characteristics.

However, the report does not reveal the location or exact time of the seminar. In addition, on June 23, the government released a picture of Dong Jingwei attending a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). However, it is not clear whether that is really him in the picture. At the very least, he is sitting in the exact same pose as in another picture from the past. Felix Lee


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