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The Ministry of State Security honours some of its veteran Communist Party members at a ceremony on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Weibo

China’s top spy agency honours veteran communists on ‘hidden front lines’

  • Ministry names some of the agents who served the Communist Party in the shadows over the decades
  • Tributes part of events to mark party’s centenary
China’s top spy agency has honoured some of its veteran intelligence officers for their contributions to the Communist Party cause on “hidden front lines”, in some cases dating back to the war against Japan.

In a rare public statement, the Ministry of State Security said it awarded medals on Thursday to party members who had served for over 50 years.

“They have done great things that shocked heaven and earth but lived nameless lives,” the ministry said.

The ceremony is part of China’s events to mark the party’s centenary, which will be officially celebrated on Thursday.


Visitors mark Chinese Communist Party centenary with pilgrimage to ‘Red Holy Land’

Visitors mark Chinese Communist Party centenary with pilgrimage to ‘Red Holy Land’

Among those honoured was Li Guangze, who joined the party 82 years ago; Li Yucai, a party member for 76 years; and Wang Risheng, who signed up 75 years ago.

It is the first time China has named these veteran intelligence officers.

Li Yucai and Wang were recognised for getting through blockades to deliver intelligence to the party, according to the statement.

The ministry also paid tribute to Hua Qinglai and his wife who weathered “storms of bullets” on the battlefields of the Korean war and proved their valour in face of an “enemy armed to the teeth”, referring to the US-led United Nations force.

Hua is the son of Chinese communist spy couple, Hua Mingzhi and Shen Anna. Shen worked undercover as a typist for the Kuomintang’s Central Committee for 11 years from 1935, providing critical intelligence to the Communist Party that eventually helped the communists defeat the Kuomintang regime.

Chinese system is the ‘cat that catches most rats’, says Communist Party ahead of centenary celebrations

The ministry, which is responsible for counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence and political security in China, did not provide detailed accounts of the veterans. Such information is rarely released and when it is, only declassified after an agent dies.

But with greater emphasis on state security in recent years, the ministry has come a little out of the shadows, launching a website for the general public in 2018 to report any suspected attempts to undermine national security.

The ministry has also been through shake-ups and purges over the years.

In 2018, Ma Jian, a former vice-minister of state security, was sentenced to life in prison and fined 50.5 million yuan for crimes including taking bribes and insider trading.

Ma was convicted of taking 109 million yuan over a 15-year period in return for using his influence to benefit various associates.