Leaked official data showed that China Communist party members work in consulates and offices in Western countries for more than ten years. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) reportedly utilized a recruitment agency to fill staff openings in British, Australian, and U.S. consulates in Shanghai. The leak uncovered a register of almost 2 million members of the CCP residing and working all throughout the world, with some holding senior, sensitive, or advisory positions in major firms. The data leak includes names, party positions, date of birth, identification number, ethnicity, and even contact information.
Sky News Australia’s Sharri Markson reported that some of the CCP members have worked in at least 10 consulates in Shanghai. Some of them have worked for up to sixteen years. This does not automatically mean the employees are outright spies. But, intelligence officials flagged the revelation as a breach of protocol and a national security risk.
Among the major companies listed as employing CCP members are major corporations. These include members who worked for vehicle manufacturers Airbus, Boeing, Rolls Royce, and Volkswagen. They also include 123 members working in big pharma corporations Pfizer and AstraZeneca. 600 members also worked for financial firms Standard Chartered ANZ and HSBC. Markson reported that the leak also revealed details on 79,000 communist party branches, many of them inside companies.
The CCP members in these branches are “answerable directly to the Communist Party” and President Xi himself. “It is also going to embarrass some global companies who appear to have no plan in place to protect their intellectual property from theft, from economic espionage,” Markson said.
Australia and UK Breach
The list includes a party member employed as a senior executive assistant who worked for Australia’s Shanghai mission. The unnamed assistant previously helped organize parliamentary delegations. The country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade uses a Shanghai-based agency, the Shanghai Foreign Agency Service Department, to provide local staffing for the past five years. In September, the agency advertised for an officer position on its website for the Australian consulate-general officer in Shanghai. Other CCP members are part of Australia’s academic, political, and business communities. A former Labor Party adviser also made it to the list but denied he is a member.
In the UK, the list includes a senior official stationed at the British Consulate in Shanghai. The consulate is also home to UK intelligence officers. The British Foreign Office insisted that it has ‘robust procedures in place to keep information secure and to vet staff at our overseas posts’. It is understood they are aware that they employ party members. However, a senior official said the leak raised security questions. The official said that ‘In that station [the official] will be sat one floor away from the MI6 team and could have identified intelligence officers.’
On Sunday, former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith called for the UK government to “expel and remove any members of the Communist Party from our Consuls throughout China. They can either serve the UK or the Chinese Communist Party. They cannot do both.’
The database containing the 1.95 million members of the CCP in Shanghai originally leaked on Telegram last September. The list, made in 2016, Dating from 2016, the list comprises CCP members in the Shanghai area. A Chinese dissident passed it on to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance in China (IPAC). The IPAC is a group with over 150 legislators concerned over by Chinese government influence and activities.
The entire CCP has 92 million members. The competition to join the exclusive club remains cutthroat, with 1 in 10 applicants accepted. IPAC authenticated the list then passed the material to four media organizations, including the Australian and the Daily Mail.
While the data has yet to reveal details on American exposure, it comes at the heels of another spy story. An Axios report named Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. A suspected Chinese intelligence operative reportedly developed a network of local and national politicians between 2011 to 2015. The woman, Christine Fang, returned to China in 2015 as soon as an FBI investigation started.
Swalwell is among the politicians linked to Fang, who Axios reportedly had sexual and romantic relationships with two unnamed Midwestern mayors, including one in Ohio. He did not reply when asked if he also had a relationship with Fang. But the California congressman did say that Fang “helped place at least one intern” in his office.
Watch the Sky News Australia report on a major leak ‘exposes’ CCP members and ‘lifts the lid’ on China Communist Party members working in consulates and major firms:
A CCP membership does not automatically mean a spy job. But, it does raise concerns about employee loyalty. Who will come first during a conflict of interest, the job, or the party? Should Western employers hire workers listed as a China Communist Party member? Let us know what you think by sharing your comments below.