TORONTO - As Jillian Ye braced herself to hear the contents of a secret document recently smuggled from China’s state security agency, she might have guessed she’d be listening to private information. What surprised her is that it was her own.
“My goodness,” said Ye, a successful database consultant living in Toronto’s east end community of Scarborough.
“They [the spies] are so rampant in Canada… I don’t know what to say.”
The document, obtained by The Epoch Times this week, entitled “Intelligence 274(2003), series nkf03292” and dated September 1, 2004, detailed Ye’s plans to start a communications company. At that time, Ye says, she had not even started the company, but had only talked about the idea privately.
“It makes me wonder where they are getting their information and how closely they are watching us.”
The document was addressed to a vice department head, delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China. It was also sent to Public Security Bureaus in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Shandong, Guangdong, and other Chinese provinces.
Ye, 39, is a slight, cheerful and soft-spoken Chinese woman. She came to Canada to study for a masters’ degree in computer science at the University of Western Ontario in the early 90’s. She later became a naturalized Canadian citizen.
She has no history of involvement in Chinese politics or even community organizations. At first glance, she might seem like the last person of interest to Communist China’s underground operatives.
That is, of course, if you ignore that she practices Falun Gong.
Ye’s family was among the first to take up the practice in Canada in the mid-90s. Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual discipline that combines yoga-like stretching movements, meditation, and moral principles based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. At that time, it was welcomed by the Chinese government, which was happy to promote the practice as it quickly gained a reputation as a miracle cure for illness and stress.
However, as Falun Gong continued to grow in popularity in China, the state organization that oversaw it perceived an opportunity for profit. Falun Gong’s founder refused to charge fees for his practice, and left the state-run organization.
Suddenly, the communist government was at an impasse. By their own estimates, there were over 70-million Chinese citizens practicing Falun Gong by 1998. The Chinese authorities mandate that all spiritual practices be under the control of the state, but Falun Gong was no longer under the state’s administration. China’s then-leader Jiang Zemin began to see the practice as a gaping hole in the regime’s tight grip on Chinese people’s ideology. He banned Falun Gong in July 1999 and launched a Cultural Revolution-style campaign to “eradicate” it. The persecution continues to this day, leaving in its wake at least 2,500 dead.
Back in Canada, Ye and thousands of other Falun Gong practitioners began pleading with government and media to help end the widespread torture and killing that was sweeping China. Ye’s sometimes high-profile efforts to draw attention to the persecution of Falun Gong made her a prime target for China’s network of overseas spies.
Ye and others always knew there were secret operatives from China keeping watch on them, but they had never anticipated just how much they knew.
Then last week, Hao Fengjun, a former Chinese security officer who recently defected to Australia, leaked a document about Ye he had smuggled out of China.
Hao worked for a branch of the security department known as the “610 office” in Tianjin City, China. He says the 610 office has a presence at every level of Chinese society and at all levels of government. According to reports from China, 610 office authorities routinely monitor, harass, and even beat, torture, and kill practitioners of Falun Gong in China. According to Hao, it also dispatches thousands of spies overseas to monitor Falun Gong practitioners in other countries.
Hao says that the document about Ye, which also accurately detailed Ye’s purchase of a residence for her parents in August, 2004, was given second-level importance- making it worth hundreds of thousands of Chinese yuan.
In addition to the reports about Ye, Hao smuggled hundreds of similar documents out of China when he escaped to Australia via a tour group in February. Two weeks ago, he went public with his information about spies. He says he was inspired to speak out after a Chinese consular official in Sydney defected and told of a network of 1,000 spies operating in Australia.
Chen Yonglin, the former First Secretary at the Sydney Chinese Consulate-General, says the “evil” work he was forced to do in monitoring and repressing Falun Gong practitioners and democracy advocates in Australia caused him to develop white hair and compelled him to seek a way out.
Hao estimated that the spy network in Canada might be very similar to the one in Australia described by Chen. He said that code names are used based on the spies’ roles. Those spying on Falun Gong are coded as “F101.” Their tasks in Canada include maintaining a name list of Falun Gong practitioners, harassing them, threatening them to cease their protests against the Chinese government’s persecution, and tapping their phones.
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The goal of the spying on Falun Gong appears to go beyond information gathering. Charles Lee found that out in January 2003 when he landed at the airport in Guangdong, China.
Lee, a US citizen of Chinese origin, was arrested on arrival at the airport. He was sentenced to three years in a Chinese prison for “planning” to intercept Chinese television signals to broadcast information about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, a topic that is absolutely forbidden on Chinese airwaves.
Within days of Lee’s arrest, Hong Lei, a spokesperson for the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, not far from Lee’s home in Menlo Park, California, went on local Chinese television.
He claimed the consulate had a list of all Falun Gong practitioners in the San Francisco Bay area and warned them not to go back to China.
Ye says that Chinese Falun Gong practitioners in Canada have learned it isn’t safe for them to return to their home country.
“We basically don’t go back,” she said.
Horrors in the Homeland
As a police officer assigned to the “610 office” in Tianjin, Hao saw not only the spying reports from overseas, but also the persecution in his homeland.
Shortly after October 2000, he witnessed a colleague brutally beating a Falun Gong practitioner with an iron bar. The victim, named Sun Ti, was the mother of a 15-year-old girl. Hao was ordered to keep quiet.
A month later, a superior visited the 610 office and instructed the officers not to be afraid of blood or death in dealing with Falun Gong. Hao says he was cautioned only about “preventing the release of secrets, which might influence the opinions of the international community about the Chinese government.”
The overseas spying claims made by Hao and Chen have been denied by the Chinese Ambassador in Australia.
Ye feels there is more the Canadian government can do to thwart the actions of Chinese agents in Canada.
“A lot of Chinese immigrants in Canada are still living under the shadow of the Chinese Communist Party,” she says. “They don’t dare to support Falun Gong due to pressure, or they might even be doing spy work out of fear.”
“If the Canadian government was more open and firm in its criticism of the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong and its spying in Canada, many Chinese would feel safer here and they’d stop doing these things against their will.”