In China, espionage and counterintelligence have often been inextricably linked. Indeed, as Peter Mattis and Matthew Brazil recount in “Chinese Communist Espionage,” the two have sometimes been all but indistinguishable, as they were during the decades-long struggle between Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists, and during the full-on war between the United Front (a tenuous covenant between the CCP and Nationalists) and the Japanese during the Pacific War. Many of the CCP’s most senior leaders, such as Zhou Enlai, were intelligence professionals, putting spycraft at the core of the Party. Famous fellow travelers, such as Madame Sun Yat-sen, widow of the leader of the 1911 Chinese Revolution, further aided the communists through surreptitious activities.
Forged in war against foreign and domestic enemies alike, China’s communist spies were run primarily by the People’s Liberation Army, long giving a distinct military tint to intelligence operations, while domestic surveillance was the province of the national police, reaching down to ferret out “counterrevolutionaries” at the local level.
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