TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The general manager of the Chinese shipyard in charge of building the country’s aircraft carriers is being investigated for leaking details about the Liaoning to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to media reports.
The vessel is the communist country’s first aircraft carrier, converted from a ship bought from the Ukraine, but serving as a model for its next entirely locally developed carrier, provisionally known as the 001A, reports said.
According to the Asia Times, Sun Bo (孫波), the general manager of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC, 中國船舶重工集團), has been accused of “gross violation of laws and party discipline,” though no further details were provided.
While initial suspicion focused on graft and corruption, later reports suggested that Sun might have handed over key details of the Liaoning project to CIA agents. The executive spent most of his career at the CSIC shipyard in Dalian, Liaoning Province, where China’s aircraft carriers and advanced frigates and destroyers are built, the Asia Times reported.
The publication said Chinese authorities were unlikely to reveal much about the case, especially if espionage was involved. Since the country’s newer carriers, including a nuclear-powered vessel, are broadly based on the Liaoning design, information about them might also have fallen into the hands of U.S. intelligence, reports noted.
The Liaoning has been seen passing through the Taiwan Strait on its way to and from military maneuvers in the South China Sea several times, also indicating the threat the Chinese Navy poses to Taiwan.