Chinese Spy Novel “Fatal Weakness” — The CIA Spy School

Fatal Weakness  致命弱点  [Zhiming Ruodian] is a novel about Chinese spies in the United States,  the competition between US and Chinese intelligence services, and the fatal weaknesses and susceptibility to manipulation of both services.  Fatal Weakness along with the other two novels in the series, Fatal Weapon and   Fatal Pursuit .

 Read this chapter online in Chinese through the URL http://blog.boxun.com/hero/zhiming/19_1.shtml

A Chinese wiki Baidu has an article about the trilogy at http://baike.baidu.com/view/1042391.htm

 Fatal Weakness   by  Yang Hejun 杨恒均 was published in Hong Kong by the Kaiyi Publishing House in 2004.

 Chinese reviewers of Fatal Weakness call it an excellent portrait of the government millieu of corruption and double dealing in which the intelligence agencies operate. According to the plot summary, the United States exploits corrupt Chinese officials as information sources by playing on their greed. Some friends of young Chinese former spy trainee who has departed for the private sector are caught and so he rescues his friends by playing on both the weaknesses of the Chinese Ministry of State Security and those of the Central Intelligence Agency.

According to the plot summary a US – China double agent in the book works for neither side but on his own account, and feeds false information to both sides in order to serve his own agenda — the precipitation of a US – China conflict.

The chapter on FBI counterintelligence work against Chinese espionage in the US for has dialogue in which some FBI people are worried about China’s rise and talk about the “Yellow Peril”.  So  I wonder that the US part of the book may be a bit overblown and pieced together from press reports and books and may not reflect direct knowledge.  It’s a fun novel even though it isn’t really a spy memoir!

Here is my translation of the plot outline from the boxun.com website:

Fatal Weakness, 260,000 characters in all, is divided into 26 chapters with titles such as  “Drugs Shock the Devils”, “God’s Surgical Blade”, “The Old Classmate in Washington, DC”, “Who Do You Think You Are?”,  “Infiltrating the FBI”, “Sex Spy”, “Target: Beijing Olympics” and “Double Agent”.

The main plot line follows Yang Wenfeng from university graduation to assignment to the Ministry of State Security, then after switching the private sector, to Guangdong Province.

 Disturbing things began to happen. One after another, his old classmates, one at the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, one at the Guangdong Provincial Government main office, and a third at the Jiuquan Guided Missile Launch Center were one after another were detained by State Security on suspicion of disclosing secret information.

Yang himself was taken away by the Guangdong Province Public Security Bureau. With the help of his former superior at the Ministry of State Security Intelligence Bureau, Yang discovers that the CIA is exploiting the fatal weaknesses – uncontrolled sexual desire and greed — of this classmate in carrying out its intelligence collection activities against China. In order to protect these old classmates, and in order to keep himself and his lover out of trouble, Yang Wenfeng takes advantage of the fatal weakness of the opposing intelligence service. He charges into the breach with his comrades and fights bravely.   But Yang Wenfeng isn’t the only one who understands well the fatal weaknesses of both the Chinese and US intelligence services.  When a double agent pursues a personal agenda and uses the fatal weaknesses of  the Chinese Ministry of State Security and the US Central Intelligence Agency to reach the goal – to make the 2008 Beijing Olympics a disgrace to the Chinese nation, to force the US and China into a confrontation and to make the entire world impose sanctions on China.

Summary translation of a few highlights:

The science park opened ten years ago but there are still some buildings under construction. All this construction activity made David Tian think of China which he hadn’t seen for years. Recently he had accepted the request of the Central Intelligence Agency to come twice a month to give a class for CIA China analysts.

He got out of his car and walked toward the building. The wall are made of a special material. Just in the exterior walls are planted 63 high precision cameras not to mention many infrared heat detectors, and equipment for detecting hazardous materials and gases.

After David Tian transferred to the FBI China Section last year, he was given responsibility for liaison with the CIA. Naturally he got into frequent arguments with CIA counterparts, but a senior CIA analyst Frank Buck [??], who later become the first president of the CIA Sherman Kent School invited David Tian to give a class on China intelligence analysis at the school.  David Tian reported this secretly back to China and in return his old classmates regularly fed him “material” for his class. The CIA is divided into senior administrators who might be in and out of the White House, spies who have a $30 billion a year budget, and analysts.

Analysts are trained at the Sherman Kent School.  Analysts generally are not involved in intelligence collection around the world. Thus unable to skim money off “intelligence expenses” the analysts have to get by on their regular pay.  Similarly, their chance of being promoted to the higher ranks especially to vice director or director is small. They don’t get to go on the TV news and even less get to play a role like in the glamorous Hollywood movies. 

Spending their days reading and working alone, most analysts have hemorrhoids and bad breath after a few years. Just for that reason, the CIA has them take training classes once every two years.  When you want to teach these people in class, they have this habit of lounging about in a slovenly manner with their coffee, always arguing back and forth, it is a real pain – you feel like strangling them!  

Yet it is just those people who write the most expensive and lowest circulation newspaper in the world – The President’s Daily Brief…..

The class of eleven men and ten women settled down. In addition to the regular teachers at the school who focus on basic training, the school regularly invites guest lecturers from throughout the Washington, DC area including think tankers from the Heritage Foundation, the Atlantic Council, etc. David Tian was excited at this opportunity – and Yang Wenfeng had planned it that way.  Getting into the CIA directly is difficult, but first getting into the FBI and then moving over to the CIA was much easier, especially in the post 9/11 environment. 

End of summary translation

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