March 20, The New York Times reported that the Chinese government
systematically dismantled CIA spying operations in the country, killing
or imprisoning more than a dozen CIA sources. But at least one part of
the report is false, and many Chinese are upset.
Xiakedao, a social media account run by the overseas edition of the
People’s Daily, responded by wondering if the authors read Spy Games one
too many times, because the report reads like it has been ripped from
the pages of the fiction spy novel.
According to The Times’ report, China’s national security organ “killed
or imprisoned” about a dozen CIA “informants,” one of which was
allegedly shot on the spot in front of colleagues in the courtyard of a
government building. The story seems farfetched to say the least.
As the report by Xiakedao explains, China’s national security organ is
part of normal state organs. Though China’s national security forces
exercise special powers to fulfill their duty to protect the nation’s
security and interests, they must nonetheless comply with legal
procedures. In China, only the Supreme People’s Court has the power to
deprive people of life. Casually shooting suspected spies dead on the
street? This only happens in James Bond 007 spy movies.
Xiakedao called this blockbuster-style approach to news reporting
unreasonable. Using common sense, one can see that the activities of
China’s national security forces are undertaken in accordance with the
law and that the national security organ is not untethered or rogue. But
rather than investigate who was behind the U.S. spy network or who their
handlers were in Beijing, The Times wrote a story that rivals the best
of Western spy novels, creating confusion for those who seek to
understand the situation.
Many netizens on Weibo reacted in anger at the report. As one Weibo user
commented, The New York Times, in the absence of any evidence, blatantly
accused China of “killing” U.S. agents. He called the report an
“extremely sinister” way to provoke American resentment and hatred
against China and added that China must not be indifferent or silent.
“The irresponsible American media should be condemned for grandstanding
and making trouble out of nothing,” he wrote.
Chinese remain convinced that the sensationalized report is a figment of
the authors’ imagination, and that common sense is needed to understand
China. Shot on the spot? Sounds like something one of the associates
would do to stop China from crippling the operation, suggested the
report by Xiakedao.