CCP

A Warning to Us All: Spying for the CCP?

1 June 2023

2.5 MINS

Are Australian business people being targeted by operatives of the CCP to provide sensitive information and data to the Chinese regime?

The question arises following the arrest of a Sydney businessman, Alexander Csergo, following a joint Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce investigation. He was charged with selling Australian defence and security secrets to foreign spies.

Alexander Csergo Charged by the Australian Federal Police

Mr Csergo is the second person charged by the task force since national security laws were passed in 2018.

Australian Federal Police alleged an individual claiming to be from a think tank contacted Mr Csergo via the Linked In social media platform while he was overseas and arranged for him to meet with two representatives.

The AFP said the two people who used the Anglicised names “Ken” and “Evelyn” offered him payment for information about Australian defence, economic and national security arrangements as well as matters relating to other countries.

The man allegedly compiled reports for them and accepted the money in the form of envelopes of cash between February 2021 and April 14, 2023.

“[They] offered the man money to obtain information about Australian defence, economic and national security arrangements, plus matters relating to other countries,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Krissy Barrett said.

The NSW District Court was told Mr Csergo would visit Australia with a “shopping list” of information requested by the foreign intelligence officers. It has been alleged that Mr Csergo provided information about the AUKUS security agreement, lithium mining and iron ore.

The offences are alleged to have taken place in Shanghai and Australia, including in cafes selected by the alleged foreign agents.

While Mr Csergo’s lawyer claimed that it was merely a common business exchange and any information Mr Csergo could access was publicly available, the Court denied him bail on the grounds he was a flight risk. His lawyer maintained Mr Csergo’s innocence and said he would sue the Commonwealth.

He could be in danger from “people very interested in him not giving evidence against the Republic of China”, according to the magistrate.

Other Cases

An Australian was also charged in 2022 with planning to smuggle military equipment from the country.

The man was alleged to have partnered with a Chinese military intelligence operative.

These cases follow incidents of alleged spying in other countries.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies lists 224 reported instances of Chinese espionage directed at the US since 2000. The survey is based on publicly available information.

It does not include espionage against other countries, against US firms or persons located in China, nor the many cases involving attempts to smuggle controlled items from the US to China (usually munitions or controlled technologies) or the more than 1200 cases of intellectual property theft lawsuits brought by US companies against Chinese entities in either the US or China.

“The focus is on the illicit acquisition of information by Chinese intelligence officers or their agents and on the increasing number of Chinese covert influence operations,” reports the Center.

Spying for the CCP

While hacking has been the preferred mechanism for obtaining information, instances abound of the direct provision of data to Chinese agents.

University researchers have also been the subject of spying operations, with a number convicted of providing sensitive information to overseas countries. Yet one highly publicised case was dropped when investigators concluded that the person concerned was simply engaged in typical academic collaboration.

Others have been charged with paying to obstruct investigations into Chinese companies and to undermine the judicial system.

Politicians have also been targeted in a number of countries.

FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed in early 2022 that Chinese spying had become so widespread that the agency was launching an average of two counterintelligence investigations a day to counter the activity.

The Director of ASIO has warned of the increase in foreign intelligence operations in Australia.

The increasing incidence of spying and related activities is a warning to Australians to be aware of the risks.

___

First published in the Epoch Times Australia and Kevin’s Columns. Photo by Faisal Rahman.

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2 Comments

  1. Kaylene Emery 1 June 2023 at 8:30 am - Reply

    In answer to your opening question Kevin, I believe the answer to be a resounding yes.

  2. Shay 2 June 2023 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Read ‘Silent Invasion – China‘a Influence in Australia’ by Canberra academic Clive Hamilton. Very concerning

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