(TibetanReview.net, Dec25’20) – China has found itself in the embarrassing position of being caught running a 10-member espionage cell in the Afghan capital Kabul and failing to prevent news about it being leaked, according to media reports Dec 25.
The 10 Chinese citizens, detained recently in this connection by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) on charges of espionage and running a terror cell, are believed to be linked to China’s spy agency, Ministry of State Security, reported the hindustantimes.com Dec 25. The crackdown by the NDS was stated to have begun on Dec 10.
Beijing has been trying to persuade the Ashraf Ghani government to hush up the case, the report cited people familiar with the matter in Kabul and New Delhi as saying.
The 10 were trying to influence the geopolitical dynamics in the region, reported oneindia.com Dec 25.
The reports cited a senior diplomat in Kabul as saying at least two of the 10 Chinese nationals were in contact with the Haqqani Network, the terrorist group that doubles as the sword arm of the Taliban, and has links with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).
Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh was reported to have indicated to the Chinese envoy to Kabul, Wang Yu, that his government could consider a pardon for the Chinese spies if Beijing submitted a formal apology that would admit to the violation of international norms and a betrayal of Kabul’s trust.
One of those detained, Li Yangyang, was operating in the country since Jul-Aug 2020 and was arrested from his house in western Kabul neighbourhood of Kart-e-Char on Dec 10. The NDS team was reported to have seized arms, ammunition and Ketamine powder, a recreational drug, during the raid.
He has revealed during interrogation that his cell had been gathering information about al Qaeda, Taliban and Uyghurs in Kunar and Badakhshan provinces.
A Chinese woman named Sha Hung running a restaurant in Kabul’s Shirpur was stated to have been arrested on the same day. “From her place, NDS recovered explosive material and other incriminating items,” a counter-terror official was quoted as saying.
The reports said Li and Sha had been in contact with the Haqqani Network and Al-Qaeda commanders.
Eight more Chinese nationals were reported to have been arrested later on.
The detainees were also believed to be creating a fake East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) module in Afghanistan as a means to entrap ETIM operatives in the country.
The United States last month revoked the terror tag slapped on ETIM, although the group, believed to be no longer existent, continues to be designated by the UN Security Council.
The oneindia.com report cited officials as saying both China and Pakistan were working to disrupt the Afghan peace talks and trying to establish themselves as dominant forces in the region and influence the Taliban and Al-Qaeda once the US security forces withdrew.