In recent days, there’s been rumors, especially around Twitter and Chinese Anti-Communist Party media of a high-level defection from the People’s Republic.
Reports are filled with rumors that a vice minister of State Security, Dong Jingwei (董经纬) defected in mid-February 2021.
He allegedly flew from Hong Kong to the United States with his daughter, Dong Yang.
Dong Jingwei supposedly gave the U.S. information about the Wuhan Institute of Virology that changed the stance of the Biden Administration concerning the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, as per the YouTube video in a Tweet.
Dong is a longtime official in China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), also known as the Guoanbu. His publicly available background indicates that he was responsible for the Ministry’s counterintelligence efforts in China, i.e., spy-catching, since being promoted to vice minister in April 2018.
If the stories are true, Dong would be the highest-level defector in the history of the People’s Republic of China.
Dong’s defection was raised by Chinese officials last March at the Sino-American summit in Alaska, according to Dr. Han Lianchao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official who defected after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
In a tweet, Han, citing an unnamed source, alleged that China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and Communist Party foreign affairs boss Yang Jiechi demanded that the Americans return Dong and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken refused.
Chinese-language press stories also claim that Dong’s daughter Yang defected with him from Hong Kong on or about Feb. 10. She is allegedly the former spouse of a senior Alibaba Group executive, Jiang Fan, who heads up TMall, China’s big Amazon-like business.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma came under fire from Beijing last fall after he criticized Chinese regulators and banks in a public forum in Shanghai. Authorities suspended a planned blockbuster $37 billion IPO for Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Group.
Dong “was last seen in public in September 2020,” Han said. His photos have been deleted by the Chinese search engine Baidu, according to some Chinese language news reports abroad.
Former Pentagon, State Department and CIA expert Nicholas Eftimiades, author of Chinese Espionage: Operations and Tactics, called the report “exactly what it is, a rumor. It happens all the time” in the information warfare between Beijing and anti-communist overseas Chinese.
As such, it is unlikely that there would be any official confirmation, but rumors such as these are interesting, keeping in mind that high-profile Chinese citizens frequently disappear and then reappear months later with an apology of some sort, having paid a hefty fine for some sort of misconduct.