Is working for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence agencies just like a James Bond movie with guns, travel, adventure, beautiful girls, fast cars, futuristic gadgets, lounging around on the beach, and saving the world from impending doom….? Are all spies like 007? Herein we explore the case of a would-be James Bond nemesis, a femme fatale and former manager for an international air carrier, Lin Ying.
Lin Ying, a former U.S.-based manager for Air China from 2002 to 2016, pleaded guilty to acting as a CCP agent of the Chinese communist government, thus ending a several years-long investigation that began in 2015.
The facts of the Lin Ying case were not complicated. She was caught abusing her responsibilities as an airline employee, smuggling packages for Chinese military officers at their direction and under their control by using the names of other passengers on flights from New York to Beijing. The charges brought against Lin Ying were: Acting as a CCP agent and not registering as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Lin Ying case may be symptomatic, in the sense that there are probably many Chinese like Lin Ying living and operating in the United States. When she was charged, she refused to admit or plead guilty for some period of time. She claimed that she was puzzled as she had never been involved in a federal criminal case involving the delivery of parcels before. Moreover, she claimed that she was not a member of the CCP and had no political motives, so how could she become a foreign CCP agent?
Federal prosecutors pointed out that Lin Ying claimed that she was not aware that her actions were a threat to national security. The U.S. government did not claim that the packages contained secrets, sensitive materials, or explosives. In actual fact, the U.S. government had no idea what was in the packages that Lin Ying helped the Chinese military officers smuggle back to China.
To be more precise, Lin Ying obtained and transferred the materials to the CCP during her 13 years of service with the air carrier and at the same time helped the CCP officers conceal from the U.S. government the source, nature, and destination of these materials. In all respects, her secret channel had high value for the CCP.
Lin Ying also failed to register her identity as a “foreign agent” and make known that she was already acting on behalf of a foreign government in the U.S. This was a source of serious threats or risks to the national security of the U.S., thus, she violated the law.
Lin Ying also groomed other Air China employees to assist the Chinese communist administration because Air China is a national carrier and they “should be loyal” to the Chinese communist regime. Being a U.S. citizen, she should know that the Transportation Security Administration regulations prohibit luggage not belonging to ticketed passengers to be carried on board the aircraft.
Lin Ying was not a passive agent of the Chinese communist government. She surreptitiously made full use of her position to recruit and instruct other Air China employees to place their primary loyalty with the Chinese communist regime by virtue of the fact that Air China is the national air carrier.
The prosecutor asserted that her benefits, such as tax-free shopping coupons, were not Lin Ying’s main motivation, as their value alone cannot reflect the high value of her services to the Chinese communist government. On the contrary, it pointed toward the fact that Lin Ying secretly transported packages out of the U.S. due to her loyalty to the Chinese communist regime.
From looking at all the facts, the prosecutor contended that Lin Ying’s actions to provide secret courier services for the Chinese military officers were to undermine the ability of the U.S. intelligence services to protect the country against the activities of foreign intelligence.
Therefore, in summary, Lin Ying did not innocently violate the law but instead, willingly acted as an agent for the CCP in the United States. The main reason was not the temptation of profit, but for the interests of the CCP, which made good use of her so-called “flesh and blood connection” between the overseas Chinese and the Chinese communist regime, as well as to win over the overseas Chinese.
In response to the CCP’s ubiquitous infiltration, bribery, and united front, the U.S. Department of Justice issued new guidelines to support the “Foreign Agents Registration Act” (FARA) in June this year (2020). Lin Ying’s case demonstrates how seriously the U.S. addresses counterintelligence threats posed by individuals in the United States who work for foreign governments, such as China.
See Part 1 here.
Translated by Chua BC and edited by Michael Segarty