BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



The BBC's Adam Brookes
"He was right at the heart of China's strategic thinking"
 real 56k

Friday, 23 March, 2001, 13:22 GMT
Key Chinese army officer defects
Chinese destroyer
The Chinese military fears secrets will be disclosed
By Adam Brookes in Beijing

An officer of the Chinese People's Liberation Army has defected to the United States during a visit.

The BBC has learned that the officer is Xu Junping, a senior colonel.

A terse statement issued in Beijing on Friday confirmed the defection.

A Chinese Government spokesman said only that the case was being investigated.

Key role with US

The BBC has learned that Mr Junping was head of the Americas Bureau at the foreign affairs office at China's Central Military Commission.

Vice-Premier Qian Qichen and President Bush in Washington
Qian and Bush: A potential shadow over future relations
His job was to handle contacts with US armed forces. He helped make military policy towards the US and he sat right at the heart of China's strategic thinking.

Sources say that Colonel Xu had been passed over for promotion, and that he had marital problems and a mistress in the US.

While travelling alone in the US last December, he went to ground and then contacted American intelligence agencies.

The sources say he was what is termed a "walk-in" - someone who offers themselves up to the intelligence services of another country.

Harvard student

Colonel Xu had previously spent time in the US, studying at Harvard University in 1999.

PLA officers hoist flag
The PLA is reportedly furious at the defection
His value to the Americans will be considerable.

He is likely to know Chinese negotiating positions and he will also know the politics and personalities at the heart of China's intensely secretive military machine.

His arrival in the US comes at a very sensitive time. The new Bush administration is still formulating its China policy and there are some in Washington who want to cast China in the role of strategic and military competitor.

This highly unusual defection will give the US new insight into China's military capabilities and intentions.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

23 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Bush reassures China
22 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China: US academic 'confesses'
21 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China 'tops execution tables'
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories