Woman falls for foreign spy, sentenced to prison with her accomplice husband

â–²Photo: CCTV


China has unveiled a number of espionage cases to raise people’s awareness amid the sixth anniversary of the enactment of China’s counter-espionage law. One of these is related to the family of a civil servant that was upturned by a lover who turned out to be a spy. 

The woman in question, surnamed Huang, 53, was a civil servant from Southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Unable to resist the allure of money and a “love affair” with a foreign spy, she pulled the husband she betrayed into a trap. 

Huang was a provincial government official in Yunnan Province, and also a deputy senior engineer. Her husband, Li Hongwei, was vice president of a college in Yunnan and also served as deputy head of an unidentified county in Yunnan from 2002 to 2004, according to China Central Television (CCTV).

In 2002, Huang left China for a well-known university for further education. The name and location of her university abroad remains undisclosed.  

After a while, the separation from her husband and daughter and pressure from study left Huang feeling “empty and lonely.” It was at that point that a charming gentleman walked into her life, CCTV reported, citing national security authorities in Yunnan. 

The “gentleman” said that he was surnamed Xu, and was a scholar who carried out research into overseas investment policy. He hoped that Huang could provide some of China’s economic policy documents as a reference, in exchange for some financial benefits. 

Earlier, Huang had been in a car accident in which her left arm was broken, which Xu saw as an opportunity to get closer to her. He accompanied Huang to undergo rehabilitation physiotherapy, and arranged for a nanny to take care of her, and Huang finally took Xu as her lover. After that, Xu began to ask for information and material that was more specific and internal. 

Despite having some suspicions that her lover was a spy, Xu reassured her, and Huang chose to deceive herself, according to police. 

At the end of 2002, when Huang returned to China for a vacation, she told her husband about her activities, and asked him to take part. In order to maintain their relationship and keep the family together, Li did not refuse their “invitation”. As the spy sought more and more confidential materials, Li became convinced that the man was a foreign spy, and that his wife was having an affair with him.

In 2003, before Huang graduated and went back to China, Xu trained her in espionage, equipping her with a camera and camouflaged encryption software, and gave her the task of collecting secret documents.

Over the next decade, the couple brought home confidential documents they had come into contact with on the job. Li took photos of the classified documents, while Huang copied the photos into a USB flash drive, waiting for the opportunity to leave China and hand them over.

With the enactment of the counter-espionage law and the National Security Law in 2014 and 2015, Huang and Li became more unsettled. At the end of 2018, they considered turning themselves in, but abandoned the idea as they still had a daughter and an elderly parent to take care of.

The couple were arrested in April, 2019. In May 2020, the Intermediate People’s Court of Kunming sentenced Huang to 10 years in prison and 10 years of deprivation of political rights for espionage. Li was sentenced to three years in prison and deprived of political rights for three years on espionage charges.

An officer at the security department said as soon as someone accepts a mission from an overseas intelligence agency, they have committed espionage, regardless of whether the mission is ever completed. 

Villages, urban communities, schools and government departments in China recently launched a program on how to guard against infiltration and influence of foreign anti-China forces to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the implementation of China’s counter-espionage law on Monday.

Global Times 

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