Youth was spy's secret weapon

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 December, 2008, 12:00am

Tina Ti, starlet and sex symbol of the 1960s and early '70s, has been credited as pioneering women's liberation and pushing the boundaries of local film. Her transformation into a powerful entrepreneur with close mainland ties has also inspired admirers. But it now transpires that she was a Mata Hari.

In an interview on Cable TV this week, the former film star confessed to spying for Beijing for a period when she was working as an actress in Thailand during the 1960s. She said she was invited by the brother of the prime minister and had many opportunities to interact with heads of state and their aides.

'Because I was young-looking, they thought I was a child,' she said. 'They let down their guard and would discuss matters of state in front of me - like how to isolate China. I, of course, passed on any information I could back to China.

'I played a spy in my first movie,' she said. 'The funny thing is, I was actually working as a spy.'

But, unlike Mata Hari, she has had a second career as a rich businesswoman, with a vast estate in Spain.