A Chinese academic who was spying on The Epoch Times office in Hong Kong has made a plea to anyone spying for the Chinese security bureau to cease doing so.
Under the threat of death and threats against his family, Dr. Wang Lian, an assistant professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology, spied for the Chinese Security Bureau on The Epoch Times from September to December last year.
“I know how painful it is,” Dr. Wang said about his experiences in being forced to give information on the newspaper where he has worked since 2002 as a senior technical consultant.
Now safe in Australia after fleeing Hong Kong, Dr. Wang hoped that anyone who has been forced to spy for the Chinese communist regime “can get out.”
“The longer they are involved, the harder [it is] to get back to a normal life,” he said. “And I believe there is a line, and if you cross the line—then you'll never have the chance to get back. The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] or an agent may think you are useless. They remove you or even leave you untouched [but] I think [in the end] your conscience will kill you.”
Prior to Dr. Wang's admission to spying, two other spies had been exposed within The Epoch Times in Hong Kong.
Dr. Wang's entrapment began with a visit to mainland China on behalf of his university last September. At Gongbei [Guangdong Province] he was detained at customs and then taken by security agents to what is thought to be a detention centre.
In a small interrogation room, national security agents pressured and threatened Dr. Wang for his involvement with The Epoch Times and especially the newspaper's special report— Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. The 32-year-old was also targeted for his beliefs in the spiritual practise of Falun Gong which has been banned and persecuted in China since 1999.
“They said I should stay there under their supervision, and how long depends on my cooperation—maybe they can release me in one day or six months—or another six months or more,” he recalled.
According to Dr. Wang, he was told they had been monitoring, researching and watching him for years. A two inch thick file of information on him was produced during the interrogation process, during which he was also threatened with execution.
“[They told me] they would give me a bullet—and my parents would have to pay for the bullet—35 renminbi—roughly six Australian dollars.”
After three and a half days of intimidation, threats, blackmail and being deprived of sleep Dr. Wang relented and agreed to spy on The Epoch Times Hong Kong office. Dr Wang was also forced to sign a repentance form saying he would not practise Falun Gong anymore. He was also made to add a clause that said he would “go whenever I am called and do whatever I am asked to do.”
“I worked for them for around four months,” said Dr. Wang. “It was completely against my conscience and the way they asked me to go almost destroyed me.”
“I felt really bad—because I am a Falun Gong practitioner,” said Dr. Wang, “I hold the belief in truthfulness, benevolence, forbearance and I cannot sell out on others and I cannot betray my conscience. … I could not fall asleep for these several months, at night those types of things just jump out at me.”
Once back in Hong Kong, Chinese agents would contact him via email to set up meetings.
“They would spend about 30 minutes to talk about everything else just to let me relax,” said Dr. Wang, “then they would use also 30 minutes to defame Falun Gong and The Epoch Times. ”
“They said 'for a person like you they said it is easy to go back to The Epoch Times' … so they continuously wanted to talk with me to know, to understand what I feel, in otherwise to understand my mind again and again.”
Initially Dr. Wang would send on information of little value to the security agents but they demanded more; sensitive passwords, information that would enable the disruption of uploading of computer files and allow for easier “hacking” and also the personal details of certain Epoch Times staff members.
“They asked me to find out the computer usage especially the network usage, so who during what time periods will upload special files to what directories on the server and who will download some files from which directories,” he said.
“Many of the staff work from home. They must upload and download something through the network and they can block it or make the network be reduced. So if you are supposed to upload a file in 20 minutes, but after they attack and in two hours you get a time out message, they have been successful in doing that.”
The purpose of the Chinese agents, Dr. Wang says, is to “eliminate The Epoch Times, in Hong Kong,” something he said that they found difficult to do openly because Hong Kong laws allow freedom of speech. Nevertheless The Epoch Times in Hong Kong has faced challenges with printing houses receiving pressure and when it established its own print shop it was broken into and valuable printing equipment was destroyed.
On Dec. 20, he met Chinese agents for what would be the last time. “They wanted me to give them information [on a colleague]—where he lives, how many phone numbers, friends, family—very close friends especially, because they want to push him with pressure [to be a spy] from family and friends, from this angle, and in my heart I refused to do so.”
Dr. Wang applied for visas to Australia and Canada on Jan. 1, and 12 days later, he received an email from security agents demanding more information on The Epoch Times, which he ignored.
On Jan. 25, he obtained a visa for Australia, and a few weeks later he arrived in Melbourne, leaving behind his wife and child in Hong Kong.
“On the current situation, my wife, my child [in Hong Kong], my parents [in mainland China], and even myself are still in danger,” said Dr. Wang at a press conference on Thursday, the same day he applied for asylum in Australia. One of the purposes of stepping out, he said, was that there are 60 branches of The Epoch Times around the world, so there have to be more spies working for the communist regime.