|Former Chinese spy Li Fengzhi spoke to the conference on Skype from the United States. He said China has a voracious appetite for intelligence. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)|
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GATINEAU, Quebec—The lights cut out and metal gates rolled down over the help desk. It was around 10:30 a.m. at the entrance to the Canadian Industrial Security Conference and one of four classified sessions with the Department of National Defence was going to be delayed.
Attendees joked that there was a robbery at the casino next door, but the drama fit well with what was going on steps away.
Some 350 people came to Gatineau, Quebec, just a hop and a skip from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, to take in an anti-espionage conference.
In this day and age when threats seem to lurk everywhere, it’s not a surprise this has gone as well as it has, said Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former head of the Asia desk for CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service).
“We wanted people to realize that this phenomenal issue is currently occurring, like a cancer in our economy—corporate espionage is rampant,” he said.
The walkways of the conference centre are lined with booths hawking the wares needed to hold the spies at bay: window tinting that can deflect laser microphones, shredding services that can turn hard drives into bite-sized chunks of twisted metal, security companies promising everything from cyber protection to human investigation.
“Defend against espionage,” goes the tagline for the conference. In over 40 sessions, experts talked about everything from managing security clearances to Cuba’s clandestine intelligence efforts, presented by none other than a former Cuban intelligence agent.
Some of the briefings were classified; only pre-qualified participants could attend. One session didn’t even name who the presenter was, listing only “Name withheld” and that the person was the Chief of Defence Intelligence with National Defence.
Sexpionage The second day began with a morning session as titillating as it was serious. Co-presented by Brian McAdam, a former diplomat, and Ian MacLeod, a national security reporter with the Ottawa Citizen, it was the kind of topic journalists love but should keep CEOs up at night—sexpionag
McAdam, a former diplomat in Hong Kong, knows the topic better than most, with a raft of stories on triads and Chinese spy mistresses. He’s been a target himself, more than once, and has tales of beautiful Chinese women trying to get much friendlier than he’d want. He won’t talk about the details of many of them on the record, but forewarned is forearmed, he said.
McAdam said countries have been using sex to gather intel for over 1,000 years, and it hasn’t slowed a bit.
“Many countries are still carrying on sexpionage, and the number one country is China,” he said.
Few such stories reach the ear of the public, although the former Deputy Mayor of London, Ian Clement, did well to free himself of blackmail and worse by going public in 2008 to say he’d been caught in a honey trap, noted McAdam.
Like a fly stuck in the sweet liquid, some men get caught in illicit affairs instigated by female agents.
McAdam gets roughshod treatment in some quarters for his persistent warnings about the Chinese regime’s efforts to influence Canadian political leaders, including trying to blackmail them with sexual indiscretions.
Dechert’s EmailsBut McAdam’s sometimes lonely voice gathered supporters when Conservative MP Bob Dechert, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, got caught sending amorous emails to female Xinhua News reporter Shi Rong in September.
Dechert said the relationship was innocent and the government stood by him, but with Xinhua widely regarded as serving an intelligence-gathering function for the Chinese Communist Party, the scandal raised questions about Dechert’s judgement and the government’s understanding of espionage threats. Suddenly an issue that received little attention was national news.
“Finally people in Canada are starting to talk about these issues,” said McAdam. Li Fengzhi worked as an intelligence officer in the Chinese regime’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) before defecting to the U.S. in 2004. He said an agent would be highly rewarded for doing what Rong did and the case would be handled by senior MSS officials.
When Li finished his keynote presentation for the conference, reporters asked him repeatedly about the affair and what it meant. “In general, this should be normal. I mean, MSS or other Chinese organizations with intelligence [duties] should do this as normal,” he said. Li said politicians are always one of the first targets for agencies. “Especially senior politicians like him.”
Intelligence agents often use being a reporter as a cover, he said, though not all overseas Chinese reporters are intelligence agents. Such agents gather secret intelligence in open ways, a method that works better than working through secret channels, said Li.
Getting into an affair to gather intel is business as usual, he added.
Li said the Chinese regime has a voracious appetite for intelligence and would steal technical information in any area it trailed in, as well as political information that would help it diplomatically.
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