Singaporean Yeo Jun Wei pleads guilty in US to working for Chinese intelligence

  • Yeo Jun Wei, also known as Dickson Yeo, admitted to using his business as a front for collecting information
  • He was recruited by Chinese intelligence while working as an academic at the National University of Singapore
The Chinese flag flies behind barbed wire at the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco. Photo: AFP
The Chinese flag flies behind barbed wire at the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco. Photo: AFP
A Singapore national on Friday pleaded guilty to using his political consultancy in the United States as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence, the US Justice Department announced.

Yeo Jun Wei, also known as Dickson Yeo, entered his plea in federal court in Washington to one charge of operating illegally as a foreign agent.

In the plea, Yeo admitted to working between 2015 and 2019 for Chinese intelligence “to spot and assess Americans with access to valuable non-public information, including US military and government employees with high-level security clearances.”

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It said Yeo paid some of those individuals to write reports that were ostensibly for his clients in Asia, but sent instead to the Chinese government.

The guilty plea was announced days after the US ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, labelling it a hub of spying and operations to steal US technology and intellectual property.

The US has also arrested

four Chinese academics

in recent weeks, charging them with lying on visa applications about their ties to the People’s Liberation Army. They include

Tang Juan

, who was arrested on Thursday night, and Chen Song.

Juan Tang (pictured left and right) has been charged with visa fraud by the US. She allegedly lied about their visa status and links to the People’s Liberation Army. Photo: EPA-EFE
Juan Tang (pictured left and right) has been charged with visa fraud by the US. She allegedly lied about their visa status and links to the People’s Liberation Army. Photo: EPA-EFE

In a “statement of facts” submitted to the court and signed by Yeo, he admitted he was fully aware he was working for Chinese intelligence, meeting agents dozens of times and being given special treatment when he travelled to China.

The plea announcement came five weeks after an indictment of Yeo was unsealed, cryptically accusing him of acting illegally as an agent of an unspecified foreign government. He had been arrested after flying to the United States in November 2019.

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Yeo was recruited by Chinese intelligence while working as an academic at the National University of Singapore. He had researched and wrote about China’s “Belt and Road” initiative to expand its global commercial networks.

According to his LinkedIn page, he worked as a political risk analyst focused on China and Asean countries, saying he was “bridging North America with Beijing, Tokyo and Southeast Asia.”

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In the United States, the court filing said, Yeo was directed by Chinese intelligence to open up a fake consultancy and offer jobs.

He received more than 400 resumes, 90 per cent of which were from US military or government personnel with security clearances.

Yeo gave his Chinese handlers the resumes that he thought they would find interesting, according to the court documents.

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He said he had recruited a number of people to work with him, targeting those who admitted to financial difficulties.

They included a civilian working on the Air Force’s F-35B stealth fighter-bomber project, a Pentagon army officer with Afghanistan experience, and a US State Department official, all of whom were paid as much as US$2,000 for writing reports for Yeo.

Yeo was “using career networking sites and a false consulting firm to lure Americans who might be of interest to the Chinese government,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in a statement.

“This is yet another example of the Chinese government’s exploitation of the openness of American society,” he said.


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