Saturday, June 25, 2011

PAGING MR. PROFUMO: Chinese Finance Minister caught in foreign spy's 'honeytrap'?
It was already a salacious story of sex and scandal in the top levels of the Chinese government, but now a recently released U.S. State Department cable is adding an element of international intrigue and old-school espionage to the downfall of a top Chinese official.

The official story, courtesy of the Chinese government, is that in August 2007, Finance Minister Jin Renqing resigned his post "for personal reasons." No other explanation was given. However, Hong Kong-based news outlets quickly picked up on rumors that Renqing had a mistress who was also romantically linked to several other prominent Chinese officials and it was that scandal that forced him out of the public eye.

And so the story stood until earlier this month when the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks published a confidential U.S. State Department cable in which a U.S. official says investigators suspected the mistress was not just a "social butterfly," but a professional foreign spy.

"The woman had been introduced to these men as 'someone working with a Chinese military intelligence department.' However, investigators now believe she is a Taiwan intelligence operative," the cable says.