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photo of jj and katrina leung together at the inauguration of president george w. bush, 2001
join the discussion: What are your views on the Parlor Maid case and the FBI's counterintelligence efforts?


After reading other respondents' comments, I think I need to remind those who angrily accused Chinese government of spying on America one fact: this so-called spy story began with two FBI agents whose clearly defined duty was to SPY ON CHINA. Dont try to play the moral superiority game on spy-related issues.
To those who hold unfair and unbalanced stereotypes more than real knowledge about China, to those whose understandings about China goes no farther than his personal contacts and impressions of the nearby China Town, the following data may help them walk out of their tunnel-vision closet.
There are 300 million mobile phone users (one-in-four people) in China. About 90 million Chinese people surf online everyday. There are 100,000 Chinese students studying in U.S., roughly one million in other countries, and at least 50% of them eventually will go back to China. The most studied areas are MBA and Electronic Engineering.

If Chinese people were really aggressive and warmongering as some people implied, there would have been no Great Wall in China and the world language would have been Chinese since at least one thousand years ago.

Xu Wu
Gainesville, FL


The documentary provided a very good overview of the impending case, and making the informed public understand that Chinese spying tactics bare little resemblance to Soviet and Eastern European Communist methods.

Having said that, the documentary lacked in allowing the interviewed experts to expound on the larger impact this case has on US-China relations and US counterintelligence in the post-9-11 era. US-China relations have changed since 9-11, with the cooperation on terrorism resulting in placing other issues on the back burner. This includes the prevalance of Chinese espionage against our government, businesses, and Chinese nationals. Ambassador Lilly could have provided amble insights to the impact such cases may or may not have for future US-China relations.

I would also would liked to have heard from the numerous counterintelligence experts on the show about how this case may or may not change how the United States address the growing Chinese espionage threat. This includes those within the ranks of our intelligence agencies and those threats within American society. Will the increasing emphasis on counterterrorism also lead to more renewed focus on countering Chinese espionage activities? Or will the Chinese espionage threat be dwarfed by the concern over terrorist threats to the US?

You show provided a good story, it needed to address such larger questions to engage the audience in understanding potential threats to US national security interests.

Mike Sullivan


As someone "in out of the cold" I found this program to be very, very well done. I'm almost certain that both parties will either be acquitted or found guilty of something less than spying. The missing pictures are not enough. In the wake of the Wen Ho Lee mess, I don't see this one rising to the level of a successful prosecution.

By the way, the Chinese have been "eating our lunch" forever. In 2004 we still know very little about the Chinese world view. I find it as amusing today as I did 40 years ago when I stepped off an airplane in Taiwan and found many Chinese to be as tall as me, something my education had not prepared me for. I'm only 6 feet tall, but obviously dumb as a rock about a people I had been trained to know.


Willie Jones
honolulu, hawaii


Dear Frontline,

As I read through some of your reader's opinion on "From China with love", I can't believe these opinions are choosen by PBS/Frontline to show cased on this web site.

One said US is wasting tax money on Chinese students for helping them on a pre-planed motive: stealing sensitive US technolgies. Another charges that China is an enemy of the states and secretly gaining force and taking advantages to prepare for the planned confrontation.

Eventhough I can't speak for every single Chinese student nor know what Chinese government think, for every Chinese that I know, these charges are completely false. Chinese students that I know came to this country experiencing many hardships to expand knowledge, to understand another culture, and to pursuit a better way of life. Most of them are living in poverty while doing researches to further US's technical lead. They are paid because they need it to survive and, for the same wage, few US citizen willing and able to do the same study. Most importantly, they are here for the same reason as all other foreign students (Indian, French, Russian...) to lead to a better way of life.

Many of them, if not all, stayed in US and contribute to US's techincal/scientific lead and economy. All of these benefits aren't possible if isn't for US government's initative and planing in bring these outstanding people to the states.

Painting China as an enemy of the states, instead of a potentially strong ally, is especially destructive. I highly doubt that Chinese government wants to "play wargame" any more than US/Russia. Just by comparing number of wars to that US and Russia participated in, one can tell that China does not like war. Out of every chinese that I know, none can imaging nor hated more than a war between US and China. All these opinions will only fuel misunderstanding and hatred between racial groups.

Brian Lee
Redwood City, CA


This excellent Frontline report leads me to believe Ms.Leung is guilty of intelligence activity on behalf of China while profiting hugely from the U.S. government. However, I don't believe for a moment she did this out of loyalty to the PRC. She did this to benefit herself financially. Though successful prosecution may not be easy due to national security concerns. I would also like to point out to Mike Horton that Chinese students do generally get a lot of financial support from being research assistants and teaching assistants. Though their English language skills may be wanting, they are usually very well qualified particularly since it's hard to find U.S.nationals who are interested in those areas and with comparable technical abilities. Chinese students are generally quite frugal out of neccessity. That's how they can afford the tuition bills! I find mike's statements to be self contradictory.

Dora Shi
Bellevue, Washington


The over riding question that kept coming back during the course of your broadcast this evening was, "How old are these people?" Your usual voice over narration could have been equally convincingly performed by an MTV announcer and the cast presented could have been enacted, stereotypes and bathos a-flying, by a cast of Dungeons and Dragons obsessed junior high schoolers. Sophomoric West meets slightly less Sophomoric East.

At least we can console ourselves with the realization that not much of value has likely been lost, for the Chinese don't really need to steal from us. At the rate things are going, they can simply buy us. And, once a subsidiary of China, Inc., we shouldn't be surprised at being made to wear dunce caps and sit in the corner for a good, long while.

Bailey Jepson
Pacific Palisades, ca


I see Chinese students allowed to study at the Graduate level each college term in sensitive areas like physics, computer engineering, cancer research, and other engineering areas. These jobs are paid for by the American taxpayer, and their families are allowed to come to the States--as almost all are married. The spouse usually immediately begins study in another sensitive study area, as well; also subsidized by the taxpayer. It is very rare to see these students ever interact with non-Chinese students, nor do they support the local businesses as they are extremely reticent to spend money. But they always have the funds for out of state tuition each term. Who funds them so well and steadily.

Do we think for a moment that these students are the children of run of the mill Chinese citizens? It is much more likely that they are the children of the decision-makers in China who gain economically with each stolen bit of technology...

Mike Horton


I found your report to be fascinating. Unquestionably, this is a most complex case. I thought the most compelling piece of evidence (assuming it is allowed in court) against Katrina Leung centered around the photographs discovered to be in her luggage on her China trip yet missing from that same luggage on her return to the United States. This is the kind of reporting that so seldom is seen on commercial television; however, veteran viewers of PBS come to expect it normally. Congratulations to all who worked on this informative and timely documentary.

Richard Gurner


If this is the FBI's number two priority, then why do so few cases come to the public's attention? Are most spies declared persona non grata and then allowed to leave the USA?

Jim McElroy


Your insightful report wonderfully detailed a threat to our national security that is often forgotten by the media: the threat from Communist China.

The People's Republic is a rising power, where generals still play wargames, forever preparing for what they consider to be an eventual military confrontation with the USA.

It is about time Americans would stop seeing the People's Republic as merely a source of cheap consumer goods. While America is busy defending itself on all fronts from an assault by radical Islam, the Communist Chinese leadership is quietly building up their military and economic potential for global leadership. They keep their currency artificially low to flood our markets with cheap products; they make sure that the labor costs in China are infinitesimally small so that our corporations re-locate to their shores; they make sure that while they invite capitalism, they do not permit their citizens an iota of political freedom -- and the USA is not rushing out there to encourage the Communist Chinese leadership to change their ways.

Unless we stop being complacent and understand who our friends and enemies are in the world, we can never guarantee safety and security for America.

It is my sincere hope that the the present administration will become ever more vigilant in this matter thanks to shows like yours.

Nazar Khodorovsky
Arlington, Virginia


Your report on "Parlor Maid" and the FBI's counter-intelligence efforts was fascinating. I understood from the start that not many facts would be revealed, due to an on-going investigation. All that put aside, you set up the scenario very well and I concluded from this scenario that "Parlor Maid's" actions seem less important than those of Agents JJ Smith and William Cleveland. These men may have jeopardized the United States national security more than any spy could ever accomplish. They were the United States homeland security and they got intimately involved with a spy. Shame on them and the FBI's failed management department. We have a lot of work to do in this day and age of terrorism.

Alec Yannoulis
Chicago, Illinois


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posted january 15, 2004

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