The surprising defection of senior Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin to Australia sent shockwaves from Sydney to Beijing. Chen subsequently gave insight to a vast Chinese spy network in Western countries and its inner workings. Many elements of his statement were later confirmed by a couple of other former Chinese security officers who were also seeking asylum protection in Australia.
In a friendly environment, spying can be achieved completely "legally," as in the case of Mr. Chen. He professed to work as an agent to monitor pro-democracy activists, Falun Gong, and various dissident groups. It was revealed that many espionage activities are carried out with the assistance of students and pro-government individuals in the ethnic Chinese community, and collected information is sent to the Chinese consulates and embassies or directly transmitted to the security department on the mainland.
With the help of international investment, China is gaining increasing economic clout, but has not brought about the political reform the world has been hoping for. Instead, the Communist government is utilizing its growing economic power as leverage to consolidate control domestically, silencing critics from democratic countries and using international corporations to help its cause. Australia’s reluctance to offend Beijing in handling Chen’s asylum application is a prime example. Another good example is the fact that Microsoft recently complied with Beijing’s demands to install filters in its Internet blogging portal MSN Spaces in China, blocking users from using "democracy," "freedom," "human rights" and other sensitive words.
Domestic control is only the first step, as overseas infiltration and expansion has always been a part of the CCP’s long-term goal. Ideology control has traditionally been first and foremost. Fully exploiting the freedom of speech in democratic countries, the Chinese authorities are dominating the overseas Chinese media market, including Chinese-language TV programs and newspapers. English-based programs can also be viewed 24 hours a day through satellite and some cable channels, as well. All in all, this media blitz signals an alarming trend, and the current issue will be focused on this topic.