On 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.