The Shape-Shifting Threat of Chinese Espionage

The Shape-Shifting Threat of Chinese Espionage
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

Amid creeping paranoia, two books try to size up the danger

Chinese Communist Espionage: An Intelligence Primer. By Peter Mattis and Matthew Brazil. Naval Institute Press; 384 pages; $45.

Chinese Spies: From Chairman Mao to Xi Jinping. By Roger Faligot.Hurst; 568 pages; $34.95 and £30.


THE CHILLING scene seems drawn from a thriller, but was horrifyingly real. One day in 2011 employees of a government ministry in Beijing were forced to watch the execution of a colleague who had been caught spying for the CIA. He was one of around 20 people rounded up as China eviscerated a network of informers. In their new book, Peter Mattis and Matthew Brazil note that the man's pregnant wife was killed with him. The point of the shocking story is not just to illustrate a catastrophic failure of American intelligence. It captures the grave stakes of a clandestine game played, or fought, by China and the West.

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