Russia Reveals China Spying
Russia: Friendship Does not Mean You Can Spy

Despite its intensive cooperation with China and imminent summit Russia announed the arrest of a Chinese spy.

Amiel Ungar,

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

In a curious sense of timing, Russia announced this week that it had been holding a Chinese national for a year on suspicion of trying to get documentation on the Russian S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile system by bribery.

The announcement came shortly before Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is to head for China for summit talks with the Chinese leadership.

Russia and China collaborated on torpedoing a Western resolution against Syria this week at the Security Council and the twp powers have been the guiding spirit behind the Shanghai cooperation organization in a bid to secure preeminence in Central Asia.

If Tun Shenyun's arrest could have been kept quiet for a year, why break the story now?

Precisely during the week that recalled the Cold War, it is important to cite that during that same Cold War a rift emerged between the Soviet Union and China.

In view of the fact that the countries share a long border, one cannot rule out a reemergence of this competition and rivalry.

What brought Russia and China together was their fear of American dominance. If the United States retrenches its global commitments, this could weaken the bonds between Moscow and Beijing.

Russia increasingly views China as a serious competitor in the arms trade, particularly when the Chinese are successful in stealing technology, reverse engineering and copying imported products. A less sophisticated version of the missile system is being manufactured under license in China.

By making the arrest and going public the Russians are warning the Chinese that despite the strategic cooperation between the two countries, espionage in Russia by China's Ministry of State Security will not be tolerated.

A final reason is that an arrest over charges of technology theft represents an indirect compliment to Russian technological prowess. One Russian official commented on the arrest by claiming that China would not engage in the usual tit for tat retaliation.

"And it will be hard for them to find a Russian who is spying on the Chinese military because they steal our secrets, not the other way around." As Russia is increasingly sensitive about being eclipsed by China, such sentiments constituted a balm to Russian pride.

Alexander Gurov, a member of the Duma security committee, claims that the various espionage attempts to steal Russian technology gives the lie to charges in the Western media about a decline in the Russian military and outdated weapons in the Russian army.

Some of these reports were fueled by criticism of Russian military industries by President Dmitry Medvedev, who in some cases even exhorted the Russian military to import the hardware that it needed.

"All these attempts by the so-called spies show that not everything is bad in Russia, although the West is trying to create a bad image of the country,” Gurov said.