Saturday, 5 August 2017

LKY School professor Huang Jing banned, has PR cancelled, for being agent of influence for foreign country

Govt says he has been working with a foreign govt to influence Republic's foreign policy
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 5 Aug 2017

• Huang Jing engaged prominent Singaporeans and gave them what he said was “privileged information” to influence their opinions in favour of that country

• He gave privileged information to LKYSPP senior member, who conveyed this to very senior public officials in position to direct Singapore’s foreign policy

A well-known academic from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) had his permanent residency cancelled yesterday and will be expelled for working with a foreign government to influence Singapore's foreign policy and public opinion.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said Dr Huang Jing, 60, and his wife, Ms Shirley Yang Xiuping, will be permanently banned from Singapore, in what is the first publicly known case of its kind in nearly 20 years.

It said in a statement that Dr Huang has been identified as "an agent of influence of a foreign country" who worked with intelligence organisations and agents from that country, which it did not name.

Dr Huang was director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation and Lee Foundation Professor on US-China relations at the LKY School, and his views on China and foreign policy issues were regularly sought by organisations and the media. Besides writing for Singapore newspapers, he also contributed articles to China's Global Times, a newspaper closely linked to the country's government.

He and his wife were born in China and are now US citizens.

"Huang used his senior position in the LKY School to deliberately and covertly advance the agenda of a foreign country at Singapore's expense. He did this in collaboration with foreign intelligence agents," said the ministry. "This amounts to subversion and foreign interference in Singapore's domestic politics. Huang's continued presence in Singapore, and that of his wife, are therefore undesirable."

The Controller of Immigration has cancelled their entry and re-entry permits, MHA said.

It noted Ms Yang was aware of her husband using his position to advance a foreign country's agenda.

Dr Huang had engaged prominent and influential Singaporeans, providing them with what he claimed was "privileged information" about the foreign country to influence their opinions in favour of that country, the ministry said.

He also recruited others to aid his operations, it added.

It also said Dr Huang gave supposedly "privileged information" to a senior member of the LKY School so that it could be passed on to the Government. "The information was duly conveyed by that senior member of the LKYSPP to very senior public officials who were in a position to direct Singapore's foreign policy.

"The clear intention was to use the information to cause the Singapore Government to change its foreign policy."

The Government, however, declined to act on the information.

When asked, the ministry declined to name the country or senior LKY School official.

It said Dr Huang and his wife can appeal to the Home Affairs Minister under Section 14(6) of the Immigration Act. They will have to leave Singapore within a grace period if their appeals are unsuccessful.

The LKY School is part of the National University of Singapore, whose spokesman yesterday said the matter is of serious concern, and Dr Huang has been suspended without pay with immediate effect. She said he can no longer work here as his permits have been cancelled.

Dr Huang told the South China Morning Post he had been notified by the Government, but said: "It is nonsense to identify me as 'an agent of influence' for a foreign country. And why didn't they identify which foreign country they are referring to? Is it the US or China?"

He said he would seek help from his lawyer and the US Embassy here, adding that he had not been given a deadline to leave.

Elaborating later, Dr Huang said he was asked to go to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority at 11am yesterday, where he was told he had seven days to appeal to MHA.

He added that he was having dinner at Grand Shanghai Restaurant in Havelock Road with his wife and a friend when someone called her to say that information about their expulsion had gone public.

NUS suspends LKY School professor Huang Jing whose PR was cancelled
University cooperating fully with MHA and does not tolerate acts of foreign interference
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor and Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 5 Aug 2017

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has suspended academic Huang Jing without pay with immediate effect, while the university works with the Home Affairs Ministry on the matter.

A spokesman said that his employment at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy was conditional on him having the necessary work permits.

Dr Huang, who had his permanent residency cancelled, can thus no longer work here.

"As these permits have been cancelled, we would not be able to continue with his employment," the spokesman said.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that it had permanently banned him and his wife Shirley Yang Xiuping from Singapore, and cancelled their PR status. It said that Dr Huang had worked with intelligence organisations and agents from a foreign country to influence Singapore's foreign policy and public opinion.

The 60-year-old was also the director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation and Lee Foundation Professor on US-China relations at the LKY School.

The NUS spokesman said the matter is of serious concern, and it is cooperating fully with MHA.

"NUS does not tolerate such acts of foreign interference, even as we continue to value and uphold the diverse and international character of our university," she said.

Associate Professor Bilveer Singh, from the NUS Department of Political Science, said Singapore's policy of staying open to the world means "all kinds of elements" can enter the country, including its academic institutions.

He warned that the current incident is "the tip of the iceberg", and said the country has to exercise vigilance.

"Singapore is an influential soft power country - that is why people would want to influence us," he added. "If we are not careful, we will unwittingly become victims of agents of influence who want to do us in."

MP Vikram Nair, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs, said the case is a reminder that "espionage is a reality of life".

On the attempts to influence Singapore's foreign policy, he said: "It is a back-handed compliment that Singapore's opinions actually matter, that we are well respected on the world stage."

Associate Professor Antonio Rappa, who heads the management and security studies programme at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, drew parallels between this incident and the Hendrickson affair in 1988.

In that case, Mr E. Mason Hendrickson, first secretary of the United States Embassy, was expelled from Singapore for interfering in local politics.

On why foreign powers want to try and influence Singapore's foreign policy, Prof Rappa noted that Singapore has been punching above its weight.

"For small countries to survive, we need to be seen and heard. Singapore, despite being tiny, is always on the radar, so people would want to influence us," he said.

Cases of foreign countries employing agents of influence are not uncommon, said Associate Professor Bernard Loo of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. "These things happen not just between enemies, but also between friends."





Dr Huang Jing, who was banned permanently from Singapore yesterday, is an academic known for his expert views on China's politics and foreign policy, as well as US-China relations.


Until the ban, Dr Huang, a United States citizen who was born in 1956, was the Lee Foundation Professor on US-China relations at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School), where he also headed the Centre on Asia and Globalisation.


His curriculum vitae, available on the LKY School's website, chronicles a long list of achievements in academia and the study of international relations.

He has authored three books and many journal articles, book chapters and policy papers on China's politics, development strategy and foreign policy, as well as US-China relations, China's military and security issues in the Asia-Pacific.


Dr Huang, who received his PhD in government from Harvard University in 1995, spearheaded a number of projects while at the LKY School.

These include a consortium studying the development of Russia's far east, an effort that involves leading think-tanks from such countries as Russia, China, Japan and Singapore.

He also chaired projects studying China-India relations, and the energy policies of China, Japan and the US.


Dr Huang is also a frequent commentator in the Singapore media, including The Straits Times and Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao.

His latest commentary for The Straits Times, published in June, was on the interdependence of the US and China.


Besides his academic work, Dr Huang is on the board of several organisations, including Keppel Land.

He is on the steering committee of the NUS Research Institute in Suzhou as well.


Before joining the LKY School, Dr Huang lectured at Harvard University from 2013 to 2014.

He also lectured at Stanford University.

He had been a senior fellow at think-tank Brookings Institution and an academic at Utah State University.

He has a master's degree in history from Shanghai's Fudan University, and a degree in English literature from Sichuan University in China.


A dispute between Dr Huang and a cabby in June last year resulted in the police being called.

Lianhe Wanbao reported that Dr Huang demanded that the taxi driver step out of the vehicle at the end of a trip to the LKY School and "show respect" to him, after he gave the cabby a $1 tip.

A video recording of the incident also circulated online.

When agents of influence seek to shape public opinion
By Zakir Hussain, Political Editor, The Straits Times, 5 Aug 2017

Foreign countries and their intelligence agencies have long sought to shape actions and policies in other countries.

Such espionage and subversion were at their peak during the Cold War, but have resurfaced recently as the global balance of power shifts and geopolitical tensions rise. In the past few years, Australian officials have been busy trying to assess the extent to which Chinese agencies were gaining influence over Canberra.

An investigation by Australian media companies concluded that the Chinese Communist Party was secretly infiltrating Australian political parties and society to influence policy and opinion.

Lately, American and European officials have similarly been investigating Russian attempts at interfering in elections in their countries. And reports of America's extensive spy network in China being crippled in the early part of this decade have emerged.

Seen in the context of these cases, it may come as a shock - but certainly no surprise - that the Singapore authorities have uncovered "an agent of influence" of a foreign country operating here.

An agent typically refers to a person who is employed by an intelligence service to gather information on a country.

But an agent of influence is a person of standing - whether in academia, business, the media or other fields - who uses his position to influence a target country's policies and public opinion.

Agents of influence can be more insidious than ordinary agents, especially if they have espoused balanced, moderate views, been given permanent residency (PR) status or citizenship, and made an impression that they are neutral, disinterested parties who act in the best interests of the host country.

Often, but not every time, disinformation or fake news is planted to direct a course of action.

And their targets invariably do not suspect they are being used.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs cited how Dr Huang Jing engaged prominent and influential Singaporeans, and gave them what he claimed was "privileged information" on the foreign country, "so as to influence their opinions in favour of that country".

The aim was for the information to cause the Government to change its foreign policy.

Earlier this week, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing told Parliament that Singapore had to " be careful of potential foreign interference in our processes". This could include "an attempt to influence our public opinion, our own local organisations", he said in reply to Workers' Party MP Png Eng Huat.

The authorities have detected several such attempts. In 1982, the Internal Security Department exposed and expelled two Soviet military intelligence officers. One of them tried to cultivate an army second lieutenant for information on the Singapore Armed Forces, while the other had been sent here to take over a spy network.

In 1997, a woman civil servant was detained for giving classified information to a Singapore PR who was working under deep cover for a foreign intelligence service. In 1998, four Singaporean men, one of whom was a recruiter, were detained for collecting classified information for a foreign intelligence service.

But the case involving Dr Huang appears to be on a different level.

In the past few years, there have been concerns that businessmen and community leaders here are exerting pressure on Singapore diplomats and officials to "tone down" the country's principled positions on certain foreign policy issues that seem to have offended other countries.

More instances of similar pressure can be expected. And more agents would be detected.

The best defence against these attempts by outsiders to influence Singapore's policies and politics must come from within. This entails being aware of the various ways by which agents of influence operate - and remaining alert against being manipulated.

Taking foreign hands off Singapore
Editorial, The Straits Times, 15 Aug 2017

The action taken against prominent local academic Huang Jing should not be seen in isolation or as being directed against any particular country. The China-born American citizen has had his permanent residency cancelled for working with a foreign government to influence Singapore's foreign policy and public opinion here. He and his wife will also be permanently banned from Singapore. This stringent action sends out a stinging reminder that Singapore's foreign policy is Singaporean and not foreign - and hence any interference in it is out of bounds, no matter which foreign quarter it comes from.

The fundamental principle is that no foreigner - and no Singaporean as well - can be allowed to advance the political and diplomatic agenda of a foreign country covertly at Singapore's expense. Espionage - the collection of sensitive national information illegally - is an outright offence. But acting as an agent of influence - to disseminate information intended to change the course of Singapore's foreign policy or its domestic political development - is no less insidious and dangerous.

Of course, every country seeks to influence the behaviour of other nations. However, that effort needs to be carried out through legitimate political and diplomatic channels which are authorised to conduct foreign policy. It cannot fall on individuals, who are present in Singapore in a different capacity, to act as unofficial multipliers of external influence. The integrity of Singapore's decision-making structures would be subverted in no time were such interventions to become habitual.

Indeed, even representatives of friendly countries are not immune from the operation of this sovereign principle. The expulsion of an American diplomat in the late 1980s, for interference in domestic politics, revealed that foreign clandestine operations were not limited to hostile countries but could emanate from even friendly nations. The issue is not the nature of the relationship with particular countries, but the boundaries of probity within which all must conduct their relations with Singapore.

Attempts to test such boundaries are widespread. Australia, for example, is trying to assess the extent to which Chinese agencies are gaining influence over Canberra. There have been explosive allegations of Russian interference in the last American presidential election. There have been reports of America's vast espionage network in China being crippled.

If even large countries can be vulnerable to the covert actions of other powerful nations, it falls on tiny Singapore to ensure that its freedom of manoeuvre is not compromised by the unwelcome attention of foreign players. The Huang Jing episode would serve a useful purpose were it to impress on countries to take Singapore's sovereignty seriously. It does so itself.


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