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CIA finally confirms disastrous 2010 loss of U.S. agents in China

CIA Director William Burns at a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing in Washington on April 14, 2021.
FPI / July 26, 2023


The CIA is still working to rebuild its spy networks in China following the loss of as many as 30 recruits inside the communist country more than a decade ago.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on July 30, CIA Director William Burns was asked about the loss of the recruited Chinese and other agents that U.S. officials say began in 2010.

“We’ve made progress and we’re working very hard to make sure we have a very strong human intelligence capability to complement what we can acquire through other methods,” Burns said.

It was the first time the CIA has acknowledged publicly what intelligence analysts have long reported as a disastrous loss for the U.S. intelligence community.

U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence officials said the arrests of the CIA’s spy network in China were carried out by the Ministry of State Security, the primary intelligence and counterespionage service of the communist regime in Beijing.

Between 2010 and 2012, as many as 30 CIA recruits in China were detained by MSS inside China and at other locations.

“The intelligence loss hampered the U.S. government’s ability to monitor what has recently been described as the largest buildup of conventional and nuclear military forces in history by China’s People’s Liberation Army,” security correspondent Bill Gertz noted in a Washington Times report.

Most of the compromised agents were imprisoned, but U.S. intelligence knows of at least one case of a CIA agent being executed in front of a gathering of security personnel in the courtyard of a government building in Beijing.

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Free Press International
ciawmburns by Graeme Jennings is licensed under Pool Photo AP

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