Chinese Communist Party Members Worked in Foreign Consulates: Leaked List

2020-12-14
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Chinese Communist Party Members Worked in Foreign Consulates: Leaked List British politician Iain Duncan Smith is shown arriving at No. 10 Downing Street in a file photo.
AFP


A leaked database of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members has revealed that Beijing has had loyal potential agents working in consulates, major multinational companies, and sensitive research facilities around the world, according to reports published in The Australian, the Mail on Sunday, and other news organizations.

The database reveals details of 1.95 registered CCP members, who must swear an oath of loyalty and secrecy to the party, including a vow to "never betray the party."

While the leaked list offers no evidence of covert intelligence operations, it details hundreds of senior employees in potentially sensitive areas around the world, including foreign diplomatic missions, who would be required to comply with any request to deliver intelligence to the Chinese government under the terms of their membership.

Some of those on the leaked list are senior employees in foreign embassies, with intelligence operations potentially compromised by their presence.

The database, which was handed to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) by an anonymous dissident after being leaked on the Telegram messaging app, also contains details of more than 150 lawmakers in parliaments around the world who are CCP members.

Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca were revealed to have employed 123 CCP members in 2016, the year when the list was generated, the Mail on Sunday reported.

HSBC and Standard Chartered had 600 CCP members working at 19 branches internationally in that year, while Airbus, Boeing, and Rolls-Royce had also hired hundreds of the names on the list, the report said.

In the U.K., 30 MPs said they would be tabling an urgent question about the issue in the House of Commons, while former ruling Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said CCP members must not be allowed to work in British consulates.

"The Government must now move to expel and remove any members of the Communist Party from our Consuls throughout China," Duncan Smith wrote in a commentary in the Mail on Sunday. "They can either serve the U.K. or the Chinese Communist Party. They cannot do both."

A senior Whitehall intelligence source told the paper that CCP members could have identified intelligence officers if they were in the same building.

The list mostly includes the details of CCP members based in Shanghai, in more than 79,000 branches, or cells. The CCP's total membership currently stands at more than 92 million, with a success rate of around 10 percent for aspiring members.

Worldwide operations

In 2018, RFA revealed that the CCP was expanding its operations far beyond China's borders, setting up branches to control the thinking of students and state employees overseas, to defend its citizens against "bad ideas," and to recruit new members.

Party branches, or cells, have long been a feature of political life in mainland China, but are increasingly being used as a vehicle for the expansion of the party's United Front ideological campaign, which seeks to bring specific groups of people into the party's fold, as well as keeping tabs on what they are doing, saying, and even thinking.

Party branches on overseas campuses formed by Chinese students aim to attract new members and provide "care and warmth" to patriotic Chinese studying overseas, according to university documents publicly available in 2018.

A key driver of the proliferation of CCP activities overseas is the current focus on the political ideology of "core" leader Xi Jinping, who has expanded the ruling party's role in all aspects of domestic life, including the private sector, universities, and the media.

Regular party activities are seen as an ideological line of defense against "bad ideas" like democracy, human rights, judicial independence, and the separation of powers, which Xi's leadership has ruled out as foreign imports aimed at overturning CCP rule.

The practice also extends to groups of employees of the Chinese state working overseas, according to statements on the websites of state-owned enterprises available online in 2018.

'Like a crime family'

In his op-ed article, Duncan Smith likened CCP membership to "joining a crime family in the New York Mafia."

"The CCP demands secrecy, cunning and utterly ruthless discipline from its millions of members. Notoriously secretive, its authority is absolute," he wrote.

Duncan Smith also hit out at HSBC, saying he was unsurprised that the bank had hired so many CCP members, given that it had "rushed to freeze the bank accounts" of exiled former Hong Kong lawmaker and Democratic Party member Ted Hui, who has fled to the U.K. amid a crackdown on peaceful dissent in the city under Beijing's national security law.

HSBC was revealed to have employed more than 300 CCP members, according to the leaked list, he said.

"The conduct of HSBC and other UK financial institutions is not just wrong but immoral," Duncan Smith wrote.

The Chinese foreign ministry said the leak could lead to unjust actions against those named on it.

"There have been many injustices, and this problem runs very deep," the ministry said. "We call on everyone to distinguish fact from fiction, and not to be railroaded by certain forces."

"Justice must be protected by relying on facts alone."

Reported by RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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