Chinese researcher sentenced to death for selling state secrets after receiving foreign spy training


15th April 2024 – (Beijing) The National Security Department made a significant announcement on Sunday (14th) with the launch of a special series titled “Innovation Leading · Safeguarding National Security.” This initiative was accompanied by the release of several notable cases, marking a noteworthy development.

One of the cases involved a Chinese researcher from a sensitive scientific research institution who, feeling resentful after being informed of his impending layoff during the unit’s restructuring, decided to betray his access to critical classified information. Motivated by a sense of revenge against the institution and seeking enormous profits, he fell into the authorities’ net and was ultimately executed in May 2016.

A certain foreign spy agency’s public website received a message from China expressing a desire to defect, accompanied by a shortwave code, which was swiftly verified as an advanced code used by the Chinese military. The defector, Huang Yu, a staff member from a classified scientific research unit in China, used national classified intelligence as his “letter of introduction” and was accepted by a foreign intelligence agency. After receiving espionage training in Hong Kong and Bangkok, Huang began selling illegally retained core secrets from his time at the research unit.

Huang deceived his wife, who also worked in the same unit, into copying classified materials in exchange for more rewards. He also implicated his brother-in-law, resulting in sensitive confidential information related to China’s party and government agencies, military, as well as the finance, telecommunications, and information security sectors falling into foreign hands. The national security agency subsequently took criminal measures against Huang, uncovering the extensive volume of classified documents he had sold, including the design concepts, technical specifications, secret algorithms, source programs, and source codes of numerous secure communication systems.

According to statistics from the National Security Department, Huang provided over 150,000 pieces of information to foreign spy agencies over a span of 10 years, including 90 items classified as top-secret national secrets, 292 items classified as secret-level national secrets, and 1,674 items classified as confidential-level national secrets. After obtaining relevant evidence in 2011, the national security agency arrested Huang, who confessed to the crimes. He was ultimately sentenced to death for espionage, with the deprivation of political rights for life, and the confiscation of espionage funds.

The Huang Yu espionage case exposed vulnerabilities in the secrecy systems, measures, and ideological construction of some classified units in China. After the case was cracked, 29 individuals from Huang’s former unit received different degrees of punishment. Huang’s wife and brother-in-law were convicted of negligently leaking state secrets and were sentenced to 5 and 3 years of imprisonment, respectively.

Furthermore, the National Security Department’s released cases also included instances of foreign spy agencies stealing Chinese seed and breeding technologies, illegal collection of Chinese meteorological data, and employees of foreign institutions in China obstructing law enforcement by the national security agencies. There were also cases reported by citizens, such as the public reporting suspicious individuals engaged in military surveillance, fishermen discovering covert spying devices at sea, and the public reporting foreign consultancy institutions collecting sensitive information.