National Security

Chinese Spy Chief Jailed

President Xi Jinping further consolidates power in corruption crackdown

Xi Jinping / AP

A senior Chinese intelligence official has been detained as part of President Xi Jinping’s widening campaign against corruption, the South China Morning Post reports.

Ma Jian, executive deputy minister of the powerful Ministry of State Security in China, and his family have been linked to financial improprieties at the Founder Group, a technology conglomerate. Ma’s detention follows the arrest of Zhou Yongkang, the former state security chief who became the highest-ranking official ever to be dismissed by the Communist Party.

Although details about Chinese spies like Ma are sparse, they have previously been accused of financial and political corruption:

There is little public information about Ma except that he worked at the spy agency for more than 30 years. In 2006, he was reportedly promoted to a deputy minister of counter-intelligence operations, making him one of the mainland's most powerful officials. At one time, he was seen as a strong candidate to head the ministry.

Over the years, speculation has been rife that rogue spy agents engaged in illicit business deals and extortion rackets. There have also been claims that rogue agents played a part in political power struggles, illegally wiretapping mainland leaders at the behest of various factions.

Many analysts view Jinping’s anti-graft crackdown as a bid to consolidate his power. Chinese authorities continue to jail civilian anti-corruption activists, and perceptions of corruption in the country worsened last year.