CIA and China: Lives lost over intelligence breach


  • Between 2010 and 2012, the Chinese government killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA informants in China.
  • Reason for this intelligence breach remains unsolved, with fingers pointing at either a mole within the CIA, sloppy operations that exposes the CIA to Chinese monitoring, or hacks by the Chinese government.
  • The killing of these people dismantled the operation in China and highlights the difficulty of America’s espionage efforts in places with advanced spy systems like China and Russia.


The relationship between China and the U.S. is volatile, but both countries depend on the stability of the relationship for economics and political reasons. This report of the the espionage immediately follows the Belt and Road Forum, China’s ambitious plan for regional collaboration through extensive trading routes akin the Silk Road. Should this massive (though still largely unclear initiative) be successful, China would replace the U.S. as much of the world’s superpower.

  • THOSE FOR PEACE – “A friendly rivalry”

    • Fair game:   Both the U.S. and China are equally wrapped up in their espionage efforts.
    • Striking a balance:   China presented a thoroughly researched document of demands and concessions to strengthen trade and infrastructure cooperation with the U.S..
    • North Korea:   After Xi Jinping’s visit with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. and China have found common grounds and aim to work together against North Korea’s nuclear initiative.
  • THOSE FOR WAR – “Zero sum game”


  • The Chinese government claimed their actions regarding the CIA informations is based on their obligation to defend its national security and interest. They assert that the execution and imprisonment of these CIA informants are great achievements in anti-espionage activities.
  • A U.S. State Department official has been accused of accepting bribes from Chinese spies.
  • This report follows another serious blow to the CIA earlier this year. In March, Wikileaks released extensive CIA documents detailing the methods used by the agency to break into smartphones and computers, and raising further debates about cybersecurity.


  • The extent of the loss in China is comparable to that in the Soviet Union and Russia when CIA and FBI agents Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen betrayed the U.S.
  • What are the biggest challenges between China and the U.S.?
  • How could President Trump affect the relationship?