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Communist Officials Spy on Each Other as Power Struggle Intensifies

Zhou Xiaohui

Wiretapping political opponents plays a significant role in the power struggle among Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials.

China News Weekly, a state-run news magazine based in Beijing, recently published article on Liu Xinyun, vice governor of Shanxi Province since 2018. The article described Liu as a ruthless government official who “befriended political crooks and abused spying schemes.”

The Public Security department reported that “Liu abused the surveillance on Shanxi’s provincial Party committee and government leaders,” according to the article.

Liu, 59, was investigated in April and prosecuted in October for charges of bribery and abuse of power. He was also accused of “forming a clique within the Party.”

In addition to Liu, the article also named other prominent members of the clique such as Sun Lijun, former vice minister of Public Security, and Gong Daoan, former Shanghai police chief. All three men have something in common: they held high-level positions in the Ministry of Public Security, but were taken down by CCP leader Xi Jinping in his nationwide crackdown on corruption. Sun was removed from his post on April 19, 2020, and Gong was purged on Feb. 10 this year.

Sun was known as the chief of “political police.” In 2013, he was promoted as the head of the First Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security. He was in charge of domestic political security and carried out various tasks, including intelligence collection and analysis, and even monitoring senior officials below the deputy national level of the CCP.

Sun collaborated with Liu when he monitored the activities of other officials. At the time, Liu was the director of the ministry’s Network Security Bureau, a post which he held between 2014 and 2018.

Sun and his group were undoubtedly keen on spying and collecting the senior officials’ secrets.

Coup and Power Struggle

So who were the targeted officials in Shanxi Province and why were they spied on?

They were Luo Huining and Lou Yangsheng.

Luo Huining was appointed as the director of the Hong Kong Central Liaison Office by Xi in 2020. He has served as Shanxi’s Party committee secretary from 2002 to 2016. He has also been a member of the CCP’s Central Committee since 2017.

Lou Yangsheng was the acting governor of Shanxi from 2016 to 2019. He served as a local politician in Zhejiang Province under Xi Jinping, who was the governor and provincial Party committee secretary between 2002 and 2007.

Sun’s espionage activities shared the same purpose as those of Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai.

Zhou, former head of the Ministry of Public Security, was sacked in 2014 on charges of bribery, abuse of power, and the disclosure of state secrets.

Bo, the former Party chief of Chongqing city, was removed from his post in 2012 on crimes of bribery, abuse of power, and corruption.

It was believed that both Zhou and Bo engaged in intelligence operations targeting top government officials. A Hong Kong media outlet disclosed in 2015 that Zhou had a secret archive for officials at or above the departmental level, involving tens of thousands of officials, including Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, who are both members of the Politburo Standing Committee (the top-level advisory body).

It is no secret that Zhou and Bo were plotting a coup d’etat against Xi. The two set up a monitoring system and established the secret archive to collect information that could be used to eliminate their opponents.

Sun Lijun, Liu Xinyun, among others, shared the same mission to overthrow and assassinate Xi.

Sun, having access to many secrets, posed a huge threat to China’s leader. Thus, he was expelled from the Party not for corruption, but for “seriously endangering political security”—meaning, an attempted coup.

Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire businessman who became a political activist, said the National Security Bureau is also in charge of overseas intelligence operations that monitor and track the illegitimate children of senior CCP officials in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and Canada, and the bureau has collected their financial information.

A 2013 Washington Post article reported that surveillance among CCP officials had become a trend, and had permeated the entire bureaucratic system. Even foreign businessmen were frequent targets.

“Qi Hong, an ex-wiretapping detective who was so busy debugging the offices of various Chinese officials, once dismantled 40 hidden wires and cameras in a single week,” according to China Digital Times.

These devices are often installed in officials’ cars, offices, or bedrooms. Spying devices are used for the following purposes: subordinates who want to blackmail their superiors in order to take over their positions; superiors who want to control their subordinates; and political rivals who plot against each other.

According to The Epoch Times’ editorial series called “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party”: “The CCP has perfected its nine traits inherited from communism,” with “espionage” being the fifth inherited trait, and “the techniques of espionage and sowing dissension are also used by the CCP. The Party is skillful at infiltration.”

At a time when the CCP’s high-level power struggle is intensifying, and Party members are scheming against each other, the spying game will remain part of their strategy.