Beijing’s spy networks in the United States include up to 25,000 Chinese intelligence officers and more than 15,000 recruited agents who have stepped up offensive spying activities since 2012, according to a Chinese dissident with close ties to Beijing’s military and intelligence establishment.
Guo Wengui, a billionaire businessman who broke with the regime several months ago, said in an interview that he has close ties to the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the civilian intelligence service, and the military spy service of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“I know the Chinese spy system very, very well,” Guo said, speaking through an interpreter, in his first American interview. “I have information about very minute details about how it operates.”
Guo said he learned about Chinese spy activities from Ma Jian, a former MSS vice minister, and Ji Shengde, former PLA military intelligence chief.
Ma was director of MSS’s No. 8 Bureau, in charge of counterintelligence against foreign targets—including diplomats, businessmen, and reporters—until he was swept up in a Beijing power struggle in December 2015. He was expelled from the Communist Party and imprisoned in January.
Guo said Ma was imprisoned because he had uncovered details of corruption by China’s highest-ranking anti-corruption official, Wang Qishan.
Ma said in a video made public by the Chinese government several weeks ago that he worked with Guo in assisting Chinese national security.
Regarding, Ji, the military spy chief, Guo said he had close ties to him and turned down requests from Ji to work as a smuggler for 2PLA, as the military spy agency was known.
Ji was implicated in the 1990s scandal involving Chinese funding of Bill Clinton’s presidential re-election campaign. In China, he was given a suspended death sentence by a military court in 2000 on charges of bribery and illegal fundraising.
Ji and his wife currently reside in Los Angeles, and Guo said he paid money to Ji for 25 years as part of China’s use of businesses to support intelligence activities.
“I know Ma Jian had been working state security system for over 30 years,” he said. “And he was responsible for sending out spies as well as for counter espionage, also vis a vis the U.S. So, Ma Jian knows everything about the United States.”
Guo is a Chinese real estate investor who fled China in 2015. He currently resides in New York City and since January has become a target of a major Chinese government campaign to silence him.
In May, two senior Chinese security officials traveled to the United States as part of a bid to pressure Guo into keeping silent, and not disclosing secrets about corruption among senior Chinese officials, as well as details of the intelligence activities.
The two officials, Sun Lijun, vice minister of the Public Security Ministry, and an aide, Liu Yanpang, also tried to convince Trump administration officials to forcibly repatriate Guo back to China amid claims of corruption.
Liu was arrested by the FBI for violating visa rules and his cell phone and laptop computer were confiscated before the Chinese official was allowed to leave the United States.
The Chinese officials, during meetings in Washington and New York and by phone, threatened Guo, his family, and business associates and said that if he remained silent, the government would release assets of Guo’s that are frozen in China worth an estimated $17 billion.
Over the past several months Guo, who also uses the name Miles Kwok, began posting lengthy videos on Twitter and YouTube disclosing what he knows about Chinese corruption and intelligence activities.
One of the more explosive disclosures during an interview involve Wang, current head of the Chinese government’s anti-corruption campaign and a member of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee, the collective dictatorship that rules China.
According to Guo, Wang secretly invested in California real estate since the late 1980s and has turned $30 million in purchases of 111 properties into an estimated $2 to $3 billion today.
Guo says he plans to detail Wang’s U.S. investments in a video to be published next week. The residences include homes and apartments in Washington and Bethesda in the east, and in California in Los Angeles, San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, San Carlos, and San Francisco. The video also shows a series of mansions owned by Wang family members in Saratoga, Calif. In total the residences cost $12 million and are worth some $30 million today.
Wang, according to Guo, is the official who took over as the top leader overseeing China’s financial sector from Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, who stepped down in 2003.
One neighborhood in California of 14 houses owned by Wang or his relatives has been fitted with special underground silos that are used to store jewelry and documents, Guo said.
“If the FBI could go in there and get those documents, then they can negotiate with the Chinese government,” he said.
Guo said he plans to disclose additional details of alleged corruption by four other Chinese leaders, including Meng Jianzhu, a member of the Politburo but not the Standing Committee, and He Guoqiang, a retired official who was in charge of police and the courts.
“In the future I will report on another two current sitting members of the Politburo Standing Committee, as well as two previous members of the Standing Committee,” he said.
Regarding a report in the journal Foreign Affairs that the businessman represents a leadership faction in Beijing, Guo denied the report. He said he began speaking out as part of long-planned effort to bring democratic reform to China.