Chinese authorities accused Chinese-American community leader John Shing-wan Leung (梁成運) of espionage and sentenced him to life imprisonment in May. On September 11, the Ministry of State Security unveiled the details of Leung’s case, claiming he had served as a U.S. spy for 30 years under the guise of a Chinese community leader in the U.S. and a purported “patriotic philanthropist” to China.
Leung, aged 78, was apprehended in China on April 15, 2021 and convicted of espionage by a local court on May 15. His sentence includes life imprisonment, a lifelong deprivation of political rights, and the confiscation of 500,000 RMB (US$ 69,000) in personal assets.
According to a report from the WeChat account of the “Ministry of National State Security,” Leung was born in Hong Kong in 1945 and relocated to the United States in 1983, where he operated a restaurant in a Midwestern city. U.S. intelligence personnel initiated contact with him in 1986 and formally established a cooperation agreement in 1989, recruiting him as an informant. Leung received a monthly payment of $1,000, with additional performance-based bonuses. In the same year, he acquired U.S. citizenship.
The U.S. embellished Leung’s academic credentials in the U.K., his alleged role as a U.N. official, and his purported involvement in the Vietnam War to enhance his profile. Leung was also directed to make donations to American state legislators to bolster his influence.
With financial support from the U.S., Leung held leadership positions in various overseas Chinese organizations, thereby amplifying his sway within the Chinese diaspora. He was tasked with making charitable donations in China, effectively projecting the image of a “patriotic philanthropist.”
Through social gatherings and community events, Leung cultivated close connections with Chinese diplomatic missions and personnel in the U.S., gathering intelligence, and monitoring Chinese nationals and diaspora communities. Whenever he learned of Chinese officials visiting the U.S. for official purposes, he promptly reported them to U.S. intelligence agencies. Following their directives, he would arrange meetings with them in restaurants or hotels equipped with surveillance equipment to collect information, even including setting up sexual traps to coerce those Chinese individuals.
Under the direction of multiple American intelligence operatives, Leung reportedly accumulated a substantial volume of intelligence related to China and assisted U.S. intelligence agencies in fabricating “Chinese spy cases.” He was even bestowed with a “Medal of Merit” by the head of the U.S. intelligence agency.
In 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of international flights, U.S. intelligence agencies urgently required Chinese intelligence. Consequently, they directed Leung to travel to China at the end of 2020, where he actively participated in various social activities to gather intelligence.
The report concludes by advising overseas Chinese individuals who may be “coerced by foreign intelligence organizations” to promptly report their situations to Chinese diplomatic missions or, upon entering China, to inform national state security agencies. Those who demonstrate remorse may be granted leniency in prosecution.
Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), September 11, 2023